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.

God’s Promises for Generous People

God has more promises in the Bible about giving than anything else. 

Why?

Because God is a giver, and he wants us to become like him. Everything we have in life is because God is generous. 

But giving is hard to do. It challenges our selfishness, so God rewards us when we do it.

One article can’t possibly list the hundreds of promises in the Bible about giving, but I’ve narrowed it down to nine. 

Here are nine rewards God promises to those who live generous lives:

1. God promises good things will happen to you. “All goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly” (Psalm 112:5 TLB).

Generosity unlocks the key to God’s blessing in your life. 

2. God promises your children will be blessed. “The Godly are always generous. Their children will be blessed” (Psalm 37:26 NIV84).

When you model the generosity of God, he not only blesses you, but he passes the blessing on to the next generation. 

3. God promises to bless your work and your business. “Honor…

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7 Stress-Busting Habits to Transform Your Year

It’s no secret that the last two years have been stressful for pastors. One LifeWay Research study in 2021 found that nearly two-thirds of pastors say they’re frequently overwhelmed.

If that’s you, you’re not alone. 

But it’s important that you deal with your stress now rather than later. Your well-being depends on it. Psalm 23 provides us with a tremendous blueprint for reducing stress. In the Psalm, David outlines seven stress-busting habits that will make us happier and healthier.

1. Depend on God to meet your needs. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (Psalm 23:1 NLT).

It’s easy to put your trust in other people to meet your needs—your spouse, your congregation, your friends, and so on.

But that’s also a constant source of stress. We should never base our security on something that can be taken away from us. When you realize God will meet every one of your needs, it calms you down. He will never disappoint you, either.

2. Obey God’s instructions…

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It’s no secret that people look to make changes in their lives at the beginning of the year. It’s a time when people get back into fitness, get their finances under control, and get serious about their spiritual lives.

But too often these changes don’t stick. As a church leader, you’ve likely seen it many times before. You’ve probably even experienced it yourself, knowing that lasting change isn’t possible without going back to the operating manual of our lives—God’s Word. 

Romans 12:1-11 gives us six important principles for making a lasting change in our lives.

We must commit our bodies to God. 

No matter what kind of change we want to make in our lives—mental, physical, financial, spiritual, or social—it will require energy. The reason we don’t change is because we have no energy. The truth is, sometimes we’re just too tired to change. That’s why change must start with our bodies.

Everything you do for God in this life, you’ll do in your body. In fact, God says to offer your body to him. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you,…

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Once your Christmas services are completed, you’ll likely be ready for some time off before the new year begins. And since it’s been an eventful year in ministry, you’ll need this time to recharge, relax, and soak in the holidays with your loved ones.

But don’t forget about making plans for the beginning of 2022. The new year is a time when people are particularly open to making spiritual changes in their lives. In fact, many non-believers questioned God more than ever this past year. Whether or not some of them attended your services physically or virtually, they were likely thinking about their relationship with Jesus. Attending church and getting to know God better are common resolutions people make as they head into the new year.

Plus, with kids heading back to school again in January, many families are looking to begin new habits. They’re more open to adding new commitments to their schedules than they will be at other times. (When kids start school in the fall is another key time when families are open to changing up their schedules.)

That…

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Eight Steps to Dreaming Bigger Dreams

Every church leader needs a dream. Most leaders start out with a dream, but those dreams tend to shrink to the size of the situation they find themselves in. That’s why we need to be stretched periodically.

The history of Saddleback is a testimony to the power of a God-given dream. In my first Saddleback sermon—during a trial service with 60 people—I shared the dream God gave me for the church. It was a big dream. (You can read the vision I shared that morning in the first chapter of The Purpose Driven Church.)

When I stood up and shared that dream, no one thought there was a chance it could come true. But God did what he said he was going to do. 

Great things come from small beginnings when God is in them. But you need to start with a dream.  

If you’re struggling to discover God’s dream for your ministry, here are eight steps to dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamed before.

Open your mind to God—The Principle of Inspiration

God’s perspective…

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Five Exercises for a Happy Heart

One way to develop a healthy heart is to incorporate exercise into your life, such as walking, swimming, or lifting weights. And over time, your commitment to exercise will improve your overall health.

But if you want a happy heart, you’ll need an entirely different set of exercises. The Bible gives us five exercises we can get started on right now. And if we make them a regular part of our lives, they will help us live happier lives.

Here are five exercises you can begin working on today to cultivate a happy heart:

Remember God is with you, in you, and for you. 

No matter what you’re facing, you don’t need to do it alone. God is with you every step of the way, working within you—and for you. 

Paul reminds us of this truth in the following three verses:

  • “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). 
  • “I…

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How God Helps Us Walk Through Grief

As we head into the holidays, I know many of you are either walking through grief yourselves or helping others walk through their grief. Anyone who has lost loved ones in 2021 will feel the loss particularly hard this season as they face the first Thanksgiving and first Christmas without them. 

The “holiday blues” isn’t a myth. It’s a reality for many.

But grief doesn’t need to be the end of the story. In fact, God wants to bless us in the middle of our grief. 

Jesus said, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NLT). That seems like an impossible statement. How can God bless your life while you’re grieving? By comforting your broken heart.

In the Bible, I’ve discovered six ways God helps us with our grief:

God draws us close to himself.

When you grieve, it often feels like God is a million miles away. But not everything you feel is true. God isn’t aloof when you’re in your worst pain. He never leaves you….

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How to Grow Through Change

By Rick Warren

Change comes frequently in life and in ministry. The only thing you can predict about the future is that tomorrow will look different from today. Change is inevitable, and the scope and speed of change we’re experiencing right now would have been almost unimaginable to previous generations of leaders. 

Years ago, I created a proverb that I’ve shared with many pastors ever since. I think it’s as relevant to ministry as ever: There is no growth without change; there is no change without loss; there is no loss without grief; and there is no grief without pain. 

God can use change in your life and ministry to make you a better person and a better pastor. But you won’t have growth without pain. 

How can you make the most of the change you’re facing in ministry right now? Here are eight principles for growth through change.

Look for God in the change.

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT). Even in the worst situations, you can see the face of Jesus. Unfortunately, we look for everything else but God when…

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You likely didn’t get into ministry with the hope of getting rich. In fact, you’re probably putting in long days of work for much less pay than you’d make if you had never responded to God’s call to ministry. But the Lord still wants to bless you financially. He wants you to get out of debt so you can be financially free.

The Bible is filled with incredible promises of financial blessing that lead to financial freedom. But every promise in God’s Word has a premise. God always attaches a step of faith to his promises. 

Here are eight habits that lead to financial blessing:

  1. Trust God to be your source and supply. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (NIV).

Our jobs are not our suppliers. They are tools God uses to provide for our needs. When we forget this, we start to worry.

Worry is the warning light that we are trusting something other than God for our security and our supply. If that’s where you are right now, ask…

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We all have moments when we feel like the demands of ministry are too much. We’re ready to quit. Over the past 18 months, many of us have felt that way more than any other time in our lives. Ministry is tough—and it’s getting tougher. 

It’s not physical fatigue that bothers most of us. Sleep and relaxation can help, but rest alone can’t solve emotional exhaustion.

That’s why I want to share with you four biblical principles for how to handle emotional exhaustion in your ministry:

Honestly tell God what you’re feeling. 

Don’t start by telling God what you should be feeling. Start by telling him what you are feeling. Feeling discouraged or exhausted? Tell God exactly how you feel. Dump everything on him. He can handle it! 

The Bible says, “Unload all your burden on to him, since he is concerned about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NJT). Sometimes it’s tough to unburden ourselves on God because we really don’t understand who he is. But the truth is:

I once took my family on a vacation to Lake Tahoe. I hooked up a rather large trailer to my car, and we headed north. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop to think how that large load would affect how many miles I would get per gallon. 

As I drove through the mountains, I noticed the gas tank was half full. No problem, I thought. My car had a big tank. But suddenly, we hit a strong headwind, and I watched my gas gauge drop even further. I then realized we wouldn’t make it to our destination. We eventually ran out of gas, and I had to hitchhike back to a gas station.

The point of my story is this: The heavier the load you carry, the faster you’ll run out of gas.

Pastor, you’re carrying a heavy load. Leaders always do. You’re helping people answer questions about eternity. You’re ministering to them in their lowest moments. Your church members are looking to you for spiritual nourishment.

To fulfill God’s purpose for your life, you must learn to lighten your load or you will run…

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How God Uses Your Work to Help You Grow

Pastor, your work matters. God is using you to help people find him. He’s using you to meet the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people in your community. 

But those aren’t the only reasons your work matters. 

Your work also matters because of how God is using it to build your character. You spend a lot of your week at work, likely more than most. No one has “just” a job. God wants to use your experiences at work to build your character.

God’s number one purpose in your life is for you to grow up spiritually and become like Jesus. The Bible says, “Real maturity that measure of development which is meant by the ‘fullness of Christ’” (Ephesians 4:13 PHILLIPS). 

So how does God use your work in ministry to build your character?

God uses pressure to teach you responsibility.

Every work has some measure of pressure. In ministry, you’re dealing with life and death matters. You’re helping people come to grips with eternity….

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