Monday, February 13, 2017

Savoring the Sweet Hour of Prayer

One of the challenges that pastors face that most people do not consider is the pressure to produce. At one point in the last church I served I was leading a Sunday school class, two midweek bible studies, a young adult study, preparing the youth lesson for the youth team, and preaching two sermons. Now, to some teachers in public schools this may sound like a lot. To which I would counter, for the most part you have a set curriculum to use, while teaching in the ministry often has a mandate of uniqueness and creativity that is unique to the ministerial profession. Either way, the point is, there are many times when one is called upon to go into one's study and find a unique word, not just for the congregational meeting of one hundred or so, but also for the faithful gathering of handful of faithful souls who attend a Bible Study.

This pressure to produce can lead to the temptation to use one's devotional time as grist for the mill of one's teaching time. This is all the more the case today in the age of social media, where one should also produce insightful and thoughtful words and information for one's flock. But, in my opinion this is not a healthy practice.

To explain why this is not healthy, let me describe how a healthy pastor integrates their personal life and their teaching and preaching. There are many things from my personal life that I might share from the pulpit or with people I am teaching. However, when I do so I usually ask permission to share with others from my wife, or sometimes my kids. This is because there are somethings that are best for our relationship if we keep to among ourselves instead of sharing with everyone. Healthy relational intimacy requires intimate conversations and experience that is not shared with others. Even my children have come to understand this. There is a song my oldest daughter sings to comfort my youngest daughter. And, they have a very clear understanding that this song is not to be shared with others outside the home. It is just for them as sisters.

The same guidelines for intimate conversation apply to our relationship with God. While some things you learn in your quiet time may be appropriate to share with teaching and leading others, there needs to be some boundaries in one's prayer and study. Some moments where we savor the sweet hour of prayer, and not peddle our intimate moment with the Savior to advance our ministry.

Just my thoughts.