As a pastor, you may be tempted to believe you’re immune from letting your spiritual strength slide. But it’s just not true.
Believe it or not, you share more in common with the story of Samson than you realize. You may not have bulging biceps, but you’re just a few choices away from spiritual weakness—the same spiritual weakness that caused Samson to waste his potential. Understanding some of Samson’s temptations can help you maintain spiritual strength so your ministry can flourish.
Samson had everything going for him—good looks, great abilities, and early successes in his work. But he was a spiritual weakling. Eventually, his spiritual weaknesses caused him to lose everything. Samson chose a lifestyle that zapped him of his spiritual strength.
Pastor, don’t let what happened to Samson happen to you.
Three attitudes led to Samson’s downfall. If we as pastors aren’t careful, they can lead to ours as well. The good news is the Bible gives us a solution for each attitude.
Samson followed his feelings, doing whatever he found pleasurable. Unhealthy relationships with women, of course, were his major weakness. Your self-indulgence doesn’t need to look like Samson’s. It can be any area of life where you have no discipline. It could be your finances, your time, your entertainment, and so on. Each will weaken your spirit.
What’s the solution? We need to discipline our desires.
Desires are good, but they must be under control.
Peter writes, “Strengthen yourselves with the same way of thinking Christ had. . . . so that you will live here on earth doing what God wants, not the evil things people want” (1 Peter 4:1-2 NCV). Just because we want something doesn’t mean we should have it. Take a look at your life and see if there is any area where you are giving in to your desires. Ask people who know you well for their input too.
Samson lived his entire life in a continual state of disappointment, anger, and resentment. He became bitter. Resentment always hurts you more than the other person. That was true of Samson, and it’s true of you.
What’s the solution? We need to control our reactions.
The Bible says when we learn to control our reactions, we’re stronger than a walled city. If we don’t control our reactions, we’re as defenseless as a city without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
Is there any area or relationship in your life where you’ve let bitterness build?
Samson’s amazing strength was a gift from God because of a commitment he made to the Lord. He committed to be holy before God. As a symbol of that commitment, he couldn’t drink alcohol, he ate a special diet, and he didn’t cut his hair. But Samson flirted with sin (in his case, letting a woman cut his hair), and it cost him everything. We flirt with sin when we disregard the spiritual habits that ensure we stay strong spiritually.
What’s the solution? We need to develop good habits.
We can’t just encourage our congregations to develop godly habits; we need to model them in our own lives.
In fact, there are three habits that I believe every pastor—every Christian, in fact—needs to develop in order to maintain spiritual strength.
- A daily time with God. If you’re not spending time with God, you’re not growing spiritually. It doesn’t matter how many sermons you preach. Without a quiet time, you’ll grow spiritually weak. Make sure you spend time reading your Bible and praying every day. To lead others in spiritual growth, you need to hear from God regularly. Jesus did this. He promises us in John 15:7 that if we stay connected to him, he will answer our prayers.
- Gather weekly with a small group of other believers. You need this as much as anyone in your congregation. You’ll grow cold without fellowship in your life. If you can’t find honest fellowship within your congregation, gather some other pastors from nearby churches you can share your life with.
- Give a tithe weekly. Jesus says, “Your heart will be where your treasure is” (Matthew 6:21 NCV). You can preach every week about the importance of putting God first, but your spending patterns will show if it’s true. It’s hard to be careless with your money if you’re giving God priority in how you spend it.
Spiritual strength is not accidental. It’s the result of choices we make. These three choices—to spend time with God daily, meet regularly with other believers, and give a tithe weekly—will help maintain your spiritual strength so you can serve your congregation faithfully.