Archives For Discipleship

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to grow closer to God and become more like Jesus.

Topics include: Spiritual formation, CLASS, prayer, Bible reading, other spiritual disciplines, campaigns, theology, etc.

You don’t hear much about discipline these days. Most people only want to talk about what’s fun and what feels good.

But discipline is critical for ministry leadership. To be effective in serving Jesus, we need to learn to master our moods, watch our words, restrain our reactions, stick to a schedule, manage our money, and maintain our health.

Successful leaders are often people who will do things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. 

So how do you develop the habit of discipline in your life?  

  1. Admit your lack of discipline.

Even Paul, who was incredibly disciplined, struggled at times. But when he did struggle, the Bible says he admitted it: “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. … For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it” (Romans 7:15-18 GNT).

Paul couldn’t rationalize his lack of discipline. He recognized his willpower wasn’t enough. No quick fixes were around the corner.Continue Reading

We all need a life objective—a vision of what we believe God wants to do in our lives. Because if we can visualize it, we can accomplish it.

The apostle Paul had a life objective, and he described it in Romans 15:20: “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (NIV). Paul’s objective for his life was to preach where no one else had preached before. 

You need a life objective too. You should have more than a vague idea of what you want to do with your life. You need something written down on paper.

Why is a life objective so important?

  • It reduces frustration. When you know why you exist, it makes the little decisions easier.
  • It increases motivation. When you have defined your purpose clearly, you have a reason to get out of bed. 
  • It allows for concentration. People become successful because they focus on a…

    Continue Reading

We all find ourselves in a rut at times. Whether it’s in our relationships, our ministries, or our spiritual lives, we might be just sitting still and not moving toward the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

But the good news is we don’t have to stay in the rut. There is a way out. Throughout the years, I’ve used six specific steps to help myself and others get out of a rut. If you’re in a rut right now in your ministry or you are helping someone in a rut, these six steps will help anyone get out of the rut.

1. Assume responsibility for your own life.

You can divide most people into three categories. Accusers blame everyone else for not moving toward their goals. Excusers justify their failure and rationalize their inaction.

But you want to be a chooser. Choosers accept responsibility for their own happiness. When they make a mistake, they admit it. Proverbs 28:13 says, “If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive…

Continue Reading

How God Spells Success

By Rick Warren

God wants you to succeed. He didn’t call you into church leadership to fail in what he created you to do. But here’s the catch—he doesn’t define success like the rest of the world defines it.

The world measures success by how you look, what you have, or who you know. But God says success is measured by who you are—your character.

The apostle Paul is a great example of success in the Bible. He models for us seven attitudes we need to have in our ministries, as shown in the acrostic: SUCCESS.  

1. Sense of direction. “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else” (Romans 15:20 NLT).

You can’t succeed if you don’t know where you are headed. You may have heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” That’s true in our ministries and in every other area of…

Continue Reading

For many of us, January is a time when we reflect on our life and question whether we’re fulfilling God’s purposes for our life. The most fundamental question in life is, “Why am I here?”

The Bible is very clear on why we’re here. “For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11 KJV).

Nothing you do matters more than bringing pleasure to God. There’s a much-misunderstood word we use that describes bringing pleasure to God: worship. 

Worship is so much bigger than the songs we sing. Church services can be worship experiences for your congregation, but we’re called to worship throughout our entire week—not just on the weekend.

God says worship isn’t what you do with your lips; it’s what you do with your life. You can preach the greatest sermons or sing the most beautiful songs with Christ-centered lyrics and still not worship God.

I like how Eugene Peterson describes worship in his paraphrase of Romans 12:1: “So here’s what I want you…

Continue Reading

2023 will be full of decisions, and those decisions will largely define your success. But with every decision, there is a risk.

Paul was a professional at making decisions and taking risks. In Acts 15:26, the Bible describes Paul and Barnabas as those “who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NLT). Because Paul took risks, he accomplished so much in his ministry.

Many of you have great dreams for your ministry in 2023. You want to start something new. You want to finally reach a goal you’ve longed to accomplish. But you’re afraid to get started.

The Bible gives us eight great principles for making wise decisions. These are eight practical principles pulled straight from the book of Proverbs that anyone can use.

1. Pray for guidance (Proverbs 28:26). Don’t just depend upon your opinion or intuition. None of us are 100 percent right all the time. Often intuition leads us to the wrong decision. As James 1:5 tells us, we need to ask God for wisdom to make the right decisions.

2. Get the…

Continue Reading

I have no idea what 2023 holds for you. But whether it’s a year where you reach your goals or not has nothing to do with your circumstances. It’s all about your perspective.

The economy might tank. Your church might struggle. Your family may face challenges.

Yet the most important question you’ll face in 2023 is, will you look at the year with faith rather than fear? The choice is in your hands. 

The Israelites had the same choice in Numbers 13, a story most of us are familiar with. Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt, where they had been slaves for 400 years. They had already spent two years in the desert. Moses then sent 12 spies, one from each of the tribes, into the Promised Land to see what was in store for the Israelites when they arrived. 

Ten of the spies came back with reports of fear. They told the Israelites the land was full of enemies the Israelites couldn’t beat, whereas, in reality, the Promised Land was as incredible as God had promised, truly a land “flowing…

Continue Reading

Starting around Thanksgiving and through Christmas morning, we talk a lot about gifts this time of year. Many people think that the wise men invented gift-giving for Christmas.

But that’s not true. It was Jesus. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son for us. God gave himself to you on the very first Christmas so you would have your sins forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in heaven. Jesus is the original Christmas gift. 

The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of generosity. Acts 15:11 says, “We are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us” (The Message).

God wants us to become generous, not just for one season a year, but for our entire lives. And being generous isn’t easy because we live in a very materialistic, self-centered world. 

When we conform our hearts to the selfish ways of this world, we won’t enjoy the outcome. It’s no accident that the word miser comes from the same root…

Continue Reading

If you want to know what matters most to someone, listen to their last words. 

Jesus shared his most intimate words in the upper room discourse in John 13-17. Those five chapters are packed with powerful spiritual truths. Two in particular stand out: How much God loves us and how we should love one another. 

Over and over, Jesus comes back to these truths and ties them together. He says, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12 NLT). And as he prepared to die, his primary concern was that his followers would be unified. 

The following 12 statements, made by Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers, summarize the Bible’s message about unity.

  1. Unity proves we’re saved (John 13:34-35).

You don’t prove your salvation by having a Christian bumper sticker on your car. You prove it by how you love other believers.

  1. The Trinity is our model for unity (John 17:11).

The Bible tells us that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect harmony with…

Continue Reading

As Christians, we should be the most grateful people on the planet. We know that God has given us life (John 5:21), has saved us (Psalm 13:5), and will never stop loving us (Psalm 107:8).

What incredible reasons to celebrate! 

Although thanksgiving and gratitude should be a part of our lives all throughout the year, this week we’re given a special opportunity to minister to people who have Thanksgiving at the top of their minds. 

As you study what the Bible says about being grateful this week, you’ll find many different ways to express an attitude of gratitude. Three of those ways appear more often in the Bible than other expressions of gratitude. In fact, it seems clear to me that they are God’s favorite ways for us to say “thank you.”

You can incorporate any—or all—of these expressions of gratitude into your worship service this weekend. They are everyday habits of a grateful heart.

What are these three habits?

  1. Singing to God.

Did you know God sings? The Bible says, “He will rejoice over you with joyful songs”

Continue Reading

November is a great time to reflect upon what God has to say about gratitude in the Bible. It’s not just because we celebrate Thanksgiving this month. We’re also getting close to the end of the year. For ministry leaders, it is a busy season because we’re preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Our calendars are full.

Also, as we enter the final weeks of the year, it’s a great time to reflect upon the past year and prepare for the upcoming year. And gratitude is an important part of that process.

You can’t read through the Bible without seeing how important gratitude is to God. A few years ago, as I prepared for a Thanksgiving sermon, I found over 400 Bible verses that reference either thanksgiving or gratitude. I then saw two major themes.

First, God expects gratitude to be the primary motivation behind everything in our lives. For example, Paul tells us this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Second, God rewards gratitude with a long list of blessings and benefits. Scientific studies have…

Continue Reading

Everything you have is a gift from God. God has given you your family, your health, your ministry, and even your freedom. 

If God didn’t give you the ability to work for what you have, you wouldn’t have anything. 

God expects you to be a good steward of everything he has given, including your influence. He wants you to use your influence to help others. 

What is influence? It’s not fame. You can be famous and not influential. Many people know celebrities, but they don’t care what they think. It’s also not wealth. You can’t buy influence. The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as the power “to affect how someone or something develops, behaves, or thinks.” God expects you to use that kind of influence for good.

How can you do that? Start with these three steps.

1. Recognize your influence.

Everyone has influence. You’re likely aware of some of your own influence at church and at home. 

Yet you might not be aware of all the influence you have. You influence everyone you come into contact with, such as your relatives, neighbors, and even…

Continue Reading