A Christian mission training school requires its trainees on the field to keep daily records of their devotions and activities. This is part of assessing the trainees’ ministry and spiritual progress.
On a visit to one of the trainees’ station a trainer requested to see those records. The trainee said work did not allow him to keep the records. The trainer concluded that the trainee has not been having his devotional time with the Lord. He felt disappointed that the trainee allowed the ministry work to keep him away from fellowship with the Lord.
First things first
Many Christians including ‘full time’ ministers of God have the zeal to serve God. They want to perform. But too often they forget to do the needful and the first thing first. That is to walk closely with the One they are dying to work for. The result of this neglect is that we starve and grow weak spiritually and perform far below capacity.
Jesus first call to all is to a love relationship. To his first disciples he called them that they will be with Him. He values relating with man not necessary for what man does for Him. When we love him what we do for him follows naturally as evidence of our love.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” He answered in the affirmative. Jesus asked the same question the second and the third time with little variations. Peter got offended. (John 21:15-28). Was Jesus doubting his love and loyalty to him. He almost missed the point of Jesus question.
As it is Jesus would trust the kind of responsibility he was giving Peter only to those who love him purely for himself with extreme devotion. Peter said he did.
So assured that Peter loved Him; Jesus mandated him to feed his lambs and to take care of his sheep.
The first thing Jesus expects of us is that we enter into a deep love relationship with him. This deep intimacy is key in knowing him, his mind and will. It is in it that we can do what is pleasing and acceptable to him.
Communication is Vital
Intimate and deep relationships are cultivated and nurtured over time. Communication is an important factor in building sustainable relationships. God has always communicated with man in different but plain and simple ways.
His purpose being that man should understand him and respond accordingly.
In addition he caused his words to be recorded and preserved in written form – the Bible. Those who love him go to it daily to hear God speak to their hearts. Then they respond through prayer and obedience. It is no wonder Jesus linked love for him to obedience to his word (John 14:21; 15:14). Lovers communicate. They cherish it and by it they grow in their relationship. God expects no less expression of our Love for him through daily communion with him.
As we grow in our relationship with the Lord we naturally yearn to please him. We easily discern his will for us. We realize what he would have us do as true and responsible members of His family. Serving him in any capacity becomes a joyful and grateful expression of our love for his love to us. Here we do not serve as a condition for remaining in his good book or remaining citizens of the kingdom. But we serve willingly as responsible members of the kingdom doing the normal business of their Father’s kingdom.
It was to the people that intimately related with him that Jesus gave the mandate to go and disciple all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s assumed they took and accepted that responsibility whole-heartedly and joyfully and with a sense of responsibility. Because it came from the One they were in love with. They had no complaints nor excuses. They went about it dutifully in spite of the dangers they were aware were coming their ways.
Not Neglecting Him
They started their work with the understanding that their fruitfulness in life and Ministry depended on Jesus’ continuing Presence with them. He had earlier taught them to abide with him for their lives to amount to much. But warned that without him they should expect to achieve nothing (John 15:1-8).
Hence they heeded the advice to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them before they set out to work as his witnesses (Acts1:8).
In other words, to make their work count they couldn’t afford to do without walking with Jesus. More so that he gave them his word, “… And I will be with you always, to the end of the age”.
They were to always fall back to him to receive instructions, directions and resources for their work. They were to also to go back to him for relief and refreshing from the throne of grace.
Above all, for the love of him they were to relish being in his presence learning and knowing more of him to become more like him. We read from the Bible and church History that those who walked with God worked well with Him.
Many Christians think if they can do something extra for God he will be happy with them. They put in extra hours and efforts. They overwork themselves and are overwhelmed by what they see needs to be done for God and yet are unable to attain. They get tired and stressed up.
Many ministers of God have broken down or have burnt-out because of the work of God. A Christian magazine gave an alarming research result of how many ministers of God are dropping out of the ministry. All because of the inability to balance between their work for God and their walk with him.
They forget the invitation, “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). No doubt God expects us to be faithful at whatever legitimate work we do. But he never wants us to do them at the expense of time with him.
There is a need for a balance between our walk and work. Jesus taught and practised the principles of rest. He called the disciples aside to rest with him. Before starting the day’s work he woke up early to pray and spend time with God, the Father.
Striking a balance between work and walk requires discipline. It does not give in to the pressures of human expectations, approval, applause or self gratification and some benefits gained from achievements. It seeks the company of God for himself and to receive instructions and patterns for the day’s work.
On the other hand a balanced life while waiting in the presence of God does not fall into the temptation of Peter on the Mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:4). He would not want to stay put on the mountain to bask in sweet communion after seeing and meeting God in his glory. Rather he would eagerly come down to rubb the glory on others.
Translating to Others
It is often said for example that men of God build others’ lives, children, marriages and homes but neglect theirs. Consequently some have wayward children, unstable marriages and poor family life. My daughter once told me, “Daddy the problem with you is that you travel a lot (for Ministry works of course) and when you come back you only face your computer”. She was right and I blushed in shame for her frank rebuke.
I was neglecting my family and not giving them the attention they needed because of God’s work.
A balance between work and walk with the Lord translates to right attitude to family and other relationships. For the work of God is all about people and people. Right relationship matters and is cultivated from walking daily with God.
From being with God, we see people and their needs from his perspectives.
For reasons of having personal times with God however we may not always be available to people to meet their needs. But we must watch when those nearest to us complain of neglect. They are the mirrors we need to check the effectiveness of our walk with the Lord and our work among outsiders.
Character comes before ministry. Christian character is developed, nurtured, grows and matures in a consistent walk with the Lord. Those who want to do God’s work well must entertain no excuse for missing on time alone with God.
Not even the work of the Lord is good enough reason to neglect the Lord himself.
Rodney Kingstone in his book, -Restoring Your Walk with God – wrote that, “Busyness in the King’s business is no excuse for neglecting the King”. How true! But how quilty I am in neglecting the King and His invitation to daily fellowship?