By Kristin Schultz
The New Year has arrived. Every time another January rolls around, many of us make resolutions. We make a list of a few things that we want to do better in the New Year. We resolve to exercise more, eat better, keep a gratitude journal, read more books, and get organized: New Year, new you.
Whether you make New Year’s resolutions or not, there are tremendous benefits to establishing new, healthy habits. Regular exercise keeps your heart healthy and your muscles strong. Eating healthy foods keeps your energy up and the pounds down. But what about your spiritual health?
As church and ministry leaders, we often (ironically) neglect our own spiritual health even as we encourage our members in their walk with Jesus. We’re busy going about the business of the church and fall into the trap of assuming that since “we’re doing the Lord’s work,” we’re spiritually healthy. Yet many times, this is not the case.
One of the best ways to be spiritually healthy is to be in the Word regularly for your own personal relationship with the Lord. I’m not talking about Bible study preparation or sermon study, which you do for others—I mean your own personal Bible study. Establishing a habit of personal study means that your time with God becomes automatic. You will not have to think twice about the ten, twenty, or thirty minutes a day that you devote to quiet time in God’s Word. While you are probably familiar with personal study habits, we all can benefit from going back and reviewing the basics from time to time. Perhaps you do not need to review for yourself but need a concise way to share this with your congregation (send them the link to this article).
- A Closer Walk—Think about the relationships you have in your life. Can you imagine not talking to or learning more about your spouse, children, or friends? Could you even call that a relationship? It’s the same for your relationship with God—talking with him, being in his presence, and learning about him strengthens your relationship. When this happens, conversation becomes easier. Use CTA’s Easter preparation prayer journal, Torn, to jump-start the conversation between you and your heavenly Father.
- A Different Perspective—Reading the Bible regularly ensures that you are engaged with God’s Word for a little while each day. Reading about God’s work among his people throughout time sheds a different light on your own experiences. Devotionals and commentaries often have insights that you had never thought of. You may discover a new way to look at a passage that you can apply to your ministry. To get started, choose a Bible passage, then read a commentary on the passage.
- A Renewed Energy—Jesus said that those who are weary should come to him for rest (Matthew 11:28). Spending time in God’s Word is not a chore. It may be difficult at first to hold your devotional time as sacred, but you will reap the blessings as the Lord renews you through the promises of his Word. You can trust the promise that his Word is a renewing, life-giving Word. To get started, choose one of the Gospels and read just a chapter a day and reacquaint yourself with Jesus.
- A Fighting Spirit—There is nothing Satan wants more than to destroy God’s church. Sadly, he can use church leaders to attack the church from within. Staying committed to spending time in the Word strengthens your faith so that you are better equipped to be the leader you have been called to be. God’s Word reminds you that you are broken and forgiven. The Holy Spirit strengthens you to fight temptation, make wise decisions, and faithfully lead your ministry. To get started, choose devotionals specifically for church leaders and let them speak to you.
- A Time of Peace—As a ministry leader, your days can be stressful. When you spend time in God’s Word, it is a time of peace. Spending a few quiet moments reading Scripture gives you the opportunity to be quietly filled, and to let the words affect your heart and your mind. Contemplative devotion is peaceful—your mind is only on what God is telling and teaching you. Whether reading an encouraging Psalm or the deep theology of Romans, tuning out the world and focusing on Scripture brings peace. To get started, find a quiet place to establish your devotional routine.
The hardest part of New Year’s resolutions is not making them, it’s keeping them. The good news is, the Holy Spirit guides and strengthens you to keep your commitment to be in God’s Word regularly. When you are tempted to skip a day or “do it later,” rely on the power of God’s Spirit to provide the time and will to keep your routine. Starting something new is not easy, but through prayer and persistence you can make a habit of spending time with the Lord.
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