Summary: A message calling people (including myself as pastor!) back to the basics of prayer and the Word.
Wildwind Community Church
June 26, 2005
I need today to be a time of repentance, not where I demand that you repent of things, but where I repent to you, and confess to you some areas where I have not been as faithful as I need to be. Those of us entrusted to guard the fold, so to speak, to maintain the integrity of the church, to keep others focused on God – who makes sure WE stay focused on God? Have you ever thought about that? Honestly, how would you know if I wasn’t reading my Bible? How would you know if I stopped praying? What keeps me from coasting for long periods of time?
The answer: nothing does. And that’s what I need to repent for this morning. Because sometimes I just coast, don’t you? Sometimes I just get by. I make sure that the things I’m going to be asked about are the things that get done. And no one ever asks how I’m doing with prayer, with Bible study – with the things that are most important about pastoring a church and living as a Christian leader.
You know, people ask me a LOT of questions at this church. I get emails all the time with questions that range from, “Did you tell so and so about such and such,” to “How was your trip to Tulsa” to “Can I serve in this ministry,” to “Did we collect the money we need to keep operating this week” to “Where’s my CD order,” to “How do I talk to my friends about God.” But since the day we started Wildwind, I don’t think anyone has ever asked me: “Dave, how is your relationship with God?” In other words, “Dave, are you growing, are you becoming who God wants you to be, are you praying and listening to God.” I don’t know that I have ever asked you to hold me accountable for keeping the main thing the main thing, but the truth is that I always envisioned a church where that would happen – where people would see themselves as being in need of a pastor who would really speak the truth to them (even when it hurts), and would understand the pastor not as some aloof authority figure removed from the struggles and difficulties of the real world, but simply as one human being who happens to have been given the task of helping to guide the rest of the church. I think it would be nice to know that we are all in agreement that if the pastor of this church doesn’t stay focused spiritually, nothing else we might accomplish really matters. Do you believe that? I do. And folks what that means is I need you to help me.
I need you to expect me to stay on track, and I need to know that once in a while someone might ask. This world offers many distractions, and the ministry itself will keep a person busy enough that they might never get around to taking the time to pray and read the Bible and seek God. That seems ridiculous to people who are not in full-time ministry, I know, but it’s true. Paul, the greatest pastor ever, understood that when he wrote:
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG)
26 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!
27 I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
Every pastor, every Christian leader, needs to be aware of that possibility – that we can earnestly teach what we truly believe, and really lead people along right paths, and yet live sloppy lives personally. I think lately I have lived too sloppily.
I think the devil would love nothing more than to have churches full of well-intentioned pastors who are saying good and true things, but living sloppy lives – who are so busy doing ministry that they aren’t really serving God from hearts full of his presence. Spiritual leaders who are coasting = churches full of busy pastors and people that are working without the real power of God. I don’t want us to be like that, do you?
It seems lately I’m finding it harder than ever before to discipline myself to pray, to read God’s Word, to listen for His quiet voice in my life and I think that’s because I have never had such a huge variety of other things competing for my attention – and all this at a time when it has never been more important that I keep focusing my life on God – the one thing that gives meaning to all this. What I’m doing is confessing to you, apologizing and asking your forgiveness and for your help. But I’m also holding a mirror up to you for you to look into.