Have you ever felt like you were leading on empty? You are giving your all to ministry and you just feel so tired and drained.
How in the world do we keep going?
The answer is perhaps simpler than we think. If I challenged you to make a list of the spiritual habits you would want the kids in your ministry to learn to practice, I bet you could do that pretty quickly off the top of your head.
You are passionate about kids growing closer to God. You know that spiritual disciplines are important to that process.
But what about you?
Sometimes we get so busy doing ministry, we neglect the very same personal spiritual exercises that we desire to be an integral part of kids’ lives.
We forget that doing ministry does not replace our need for spiritual exercises in our own lives. We end up emptying ourselves by serving others, without allowing God to refill us.
As leaders, we have a personal responsibility to grow closer to God—not just to become better leaders.
We need Him to shape and mold us into who He wants us to be. And that won’t happen unless we are more in love with God—our personal Savior—than with ministry.
Doing something is better than nothing. Look for little steps instead of giant leaps. Most importantly, don’t quit.
Read Your Bible.
Make sure you have a pattern for reading God’s Word for the sole purpose of connecting with Him and knowing Him better.
We read a lot in order to prepare devotions, sermons, curriculum, or lessons. We may even read to gain leadership insights.
But we need the habit of reading for Him to shape us, convict us, teach us, and lead us.
When I struggled with the habit of my own personal devotional reading, I found that consistency and accountability helped more than anything else.
I had to designate a time and a place to help rebuild that habit. I got to work about thirty minutes before the office officially opened, so I decided to spend that time in my rocking chair, reading and studying God’s Word.
Having a consistent plan works.
Whether you choose to read through a book of the Bible, the Old or New Testament, or even the whole Bible, make a plan and commit to it.
I do my best when I have someone holding me accountable.
The YouVersion Bible app has options to read plans with friends and it gives you little checkmark. Knowing that others were going to see my checkmark encouraged me to keep it up.
If you feel like prayer is the habit you struggle with the most, you are not alone. But what a powerful thing for us to neglect! It’s silly of us.
We don’t have to make decisions on our own. We don’t have to rely on our own wisdom, strength, or skills.
We can depend on Him. We can talk to Him. We can seek His path.
Most importantly, we can know His heart.
We can connect with Him and allow Him to change us.
I’ve found it helpful to set reminders in my phone. Some are specific and on repeat. Every day at 9:30 I have an alert that reminds me to pray for volunteers in my ministry.
You might choose to set a generic reminder to stop and spend a few minutes praying. You can also try putting sticky notes around your work area to prompt you to take a few quiet minutes.
You need to attend a church service without serving. I know all of the thousands of reasons why that is difficult. But it is vital that we make room for worship in our lives.
And I mean the kind without motions attached.
We need to be an active part of corporate worship, just like everyone else. We need to be able to sing our praises to God and connect with Him alongside other believers.
Commit to do what it takes to increase your availability to worship. Find other leaders who can help you, even if it means you just go to service once a month.
If that is absolutely impossible, find another church in your area that has Saturday service and slip in every now and then.
Take full advantage of personal, private worship times too. Turn off the podcasts during your drives and praise God instead.
Yes, I know that you are serving others 24/7. But when is the last time you served in a way that was not your responsibility?
Last year I had the opportunity to go to a country where I have served many times, but this time was different.
I was not in charge of anything, and it was weird. My entire job was to just help as needed and do what I was told.
Not only was it a stretching experience, but it was a wake-up call about how much I needed to give of myself outside my normal responsibilities.
I needed this exercise to challenge me spiritually.
I know time is tight, but look for opportunities to serve outside of kids’ ministry.
Maybe you help out in another ministry for an event. Maybe you help at a friend’s church. Maybe you help at a local organization. Maybe you sign up for a mission trip that is out of your comfort zone.
We often challenge others to step out and serve, but it is just as important for our spiritual growth to serve in challenging ways as well.
When it comes to spiritual exercises, we are often our own worst enemies.
We forget or we neglect something, and we feel like we’ve blown it. We allow guilt to hinder us and busyness to get in the way of personally connecting with God.
Hebrews 12:1–2 reminds us, “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.”
Friend—keep your eyes on Jesus. Do what it takes to pursue Him personally and put spiritual exercises in your life.