Do you operate on empty or from a full tank? Have you ever been in a “drought” season of your life or ministry? How do you prepare yourself in the lean times? I recently went through a stretch where nothing was happening in my ministry. I was not on a church staff, had a very thin speaking schedule and few church responsibilities. During this season I was convicted by a John Maxwell article entitled, “The Rule of Five.” In this article he challenged readers to do five things every day that will help you grow. Even though I didn’t have places to preach or lead, I started a detailed learning program preparing myself to lead. After nearly a year, my schedule became overwhelming and I was able to glean from my time of preparation. The truth is that you are usually not able to get ready when you need to be ready. The preparation comes BEFORE the promotion. In his article Maxwell does not mandate a specific daily five. He emphasizes that each persons daily five must be tailor made for them. Below is a layout of my daily growth plan:
The truth is that you are usually not able to get ready when you need to be ready. The preparation comes BEFORE the promotion.
I use the following prayer model: P.raise – I start by thanking God for my experiences from the previous day. R.epentance, I ask God for forgiveness of sins and power to overcome these obstacles. A.sk – I do this in two steps 1) INTERCESSION: Prayer for others 2) SUPPLICATION – Prayer for myself. Y.ield – I yield to God’s will in my life. I record my prayers in my journal. This is a great strength of encouragement for me to be able to go back and see the marvelous things that God has done.
2) BIBLE READING
I read the Bible through each year. I use the YouVersion app to keep track of my reading. I also use the app bible.is to listen to the Bible on audio. I try to choose one verse from my reading each day and really reflect on that verse. In his landmark book, Leading On Empty, author Wayne Cordeiro says he uses a simple reading plan called S.O.A.P. He suggests that you write out the following after your daily reading, “1. The SELECTION that stands out to you the most. 2. Your OBSERVATION about it. 3. APPLICATION – how can you apply this to your life. 4. A PLAN for you to apply and live out what you have read.” I would love to digest entire passages of what I read, but if I can study one verse for 5 to 10 minutes a day, my knowledge of the Word of God will expand exponentially.
3) SUPPLEMENTAL READING
I attempt to read one chapter of a book each day. By doing that I have been able to get in a rhythm and complete 15 to 20 books a year the last three years. I am involved in a lot of different areas of ministry and life so I try to be intentional in diversifying my reading. Before each year, I determine seven categories that I will read in, and I try to be very deliberate to make sure all the books and articles that I am reading fall under one of these headings. My current categories are personal growth, church growth and processes, biographies, leadership, spiritual disciplines, social media and relationships.
Writing is an important part of my life. I desire to create resources that can help others grow in their spiritual life and ministry. I write in three main ways: First, I journal what I read and study so that I can retain this information and speak from the overflow. Secondly, I write on this blog to create resources for others. Thirdly, I write as part of my daily devotion. In the classic book, “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon McDonald, he talks in great length about the importance of keeping a daily journal. I have become a believer. I personally journal electronically using the app Momento. This app keeps everything in one place for me by importing all of my social media into my daily journal.
I’ve come to realize that I can’t keep up with my crazy schedule unless I am being healthy. I am learning that managing our natural health is as important as managing our spiritual health. This concept changed for my after I read Tom Rath’s book, “Eat Move Sleep.” He described health in a way that was very manageable for me. The takeaway from that book was that I need to move more intentionally each day. Over the last two years I have used a FitBit Force to track my steps. I have a goal of walking 10,000 steps and exercising 30 minutes each day. I just turned 40 and I lost grandparents on each side of my family, as well as my mother due to heart conditions. This had made me take my health much more seriously.
The reason that I am taking time to break down my daily disciplines point by point is because even though I am an Ordained minister and have been raised in the church, two years ago was the FIRST time I have ever had a clear plan for my daily disciplines. The issue is many of us don’t have a clear plan and we constantly encourage people we lead to read and pray without giving them a clear plan. Please understand that everyone’s plan will look differently, but I am now convinced you must have a DAILY plan to stay sharp.