As Saddleback Church continues in our 40 Days of Prayer campaign, I’m mindful of the fact that a lot of leaders around the world might not be in the best place, spiritually, to lead a church in such an intense prayer effort. If you want to lead your church effectively through a campaign, you need to be keeping your own relationship with God fresh.
It’s way too easy to just go through the motions instead of basing your ministry on a growing relationship with Christ. In fact, your ministry will have no impact if you’re not developing a more intimate relationship with Christ.
Philippians 3:10 says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (NIV). The word “know” in this verse speaks of a deeply intimate relationship, like the relationship a husband and wife have with each another. Part of what kept Paul joyful in spite of being imprisoned as he wrote the book of Philippians was his intimate relationship with Christ.
Here are three big ways you can do the same …
1. Spend Time with God
Are you spending more and more time with God? When we get busy in ministry, we often let our time with God suffer. But we must guard our time with God.
Serving God without spending time with him is fruitless. The more time you spend with Christ, the better you know him—and the more joyful your ministry will be.
2. Talk with God Continually
Having a more consistent quiet time is a start, but you also build a more intimate relationship with God by constantly talking to him.
My prayers don’t always sound very spiritual, but I talk to God all the time. I can be going through a fast-food drive-through and say, “God, I’m really glad to get this taco. I’m hungry!” The key is, keep talking to God.
And don’t get hung up on the details of your prayer life either—like when, where, and how long you prayed. When you do, you substitute a ritual or rule for a relationship. Those rituals won’t bring you joy. Only a growing relationship with Jesus will.
3. Trust Wholeheartedly in God
God wants you to learn to trust him. That’s often why he allows problems to creep into your life. Through those problems he can demonstrate his reliability—and your trust in him will grow.
And your relationship with him will grow in the process. Take a look at any struggles you’ve been going through recently. How is God trying to get you to trust him more? Those problems can be a door to an even more intimate relationship with God.
Paul tells us in Philippians 3 what his number one goal in life was. He doesn’t point to rewards in Heaven, the accolades of others, or even planting churches or winning people to Christ. He says, “My number one purpose in life is to know Christ.”
And Paul wrote that at the end of his life. Didn’t he know God? Of course. But he wanted to know him better. He never stopped hungering for God.
And neither should we. Our joy in ministry depends upon it.