Five Practical Characteristics of Meaningful Devotions

We are beginning a new series of articles highlighting the key practices of leaders who are faithfully obedient in their service for Christ. The practices that we’ll explore in this series help leaders develop the roots, strengthen the limbs, and nourish the foliage of their “EML” trees (see our website for a description of the EML tree).

Key Leadership Practice 10

Utilize a personal daily devotion tool for deepening my relationship with God and growing in wisdom and character.

To be completely honest, I’m surprised that we even need to focus on the topic of daily devotions. It is an obvious practice that all Christians ought to be utilizing.  In our churches we encourage new believers to develop this foundational practice.  So it should be second nature for God’s leaders to have a daily time alone with God. Yet we at IBL know by experience that many leaders skip right past this crucial time as they head into the hectic workday serving Christ and His Kingdom.  Unfortunately, it is commonplace as we counsel couples having significant personal spiritual struggles, or as we coach individuals stressed by the weight of leadership decisions, that we find ourselves needing to give counsel about the practice of daily devotions.

Let me say it as plainly as I can: sermon and teaching preparation is not a substitute for personal devotions. Your daily time must have a focus on your own personal spiritual needs, not that of your people or the lost, and it must be oriented towards relationship (with God), not study.  It must include both meditative time in the Word and time with God in prayer.

Here are five things you should keep in mind as you establish this most-important leadership practice:

1. The Nature of Your Time

Approach your devotions with a sincere and passionate desire for a deepening relationship with God. Ask for the Holy Spirit to highlight areas of your life which need to be more like Christ.

Our hearts are factories for sin and idols that can devour the blessing of devotions. Structure your prayer time thoughtfully. Use the well known sequence of adoration, confession, gratitude and requests. Alternatively, employ the Lord’s prayer as a model for your own.

2. Choose a Tool

A wide variety of “off the shelf” daily devotion tools are available for use. Alternatively, consider a “home grown” tool such as reading a particular book in the Bible (maybe a section of scripture that you have neglected). Also, you could use a hymnal to direct your scripture reading or some other device to give order to your time.

Your choice of a tool is far less important than your faithfulness in using it.

Pick one that interests you and use it! Daily! You can always change to another if your current one is not helping you. You should change your tool from time-to-time (annually or quarterly) just to mix things up and keep your time fresh.

3. Choose a Time & Place

Select a time of day and length of time that is most likely to enhance your faithfulness. Do what is necessary to protect this time in His presence. Meaningful time with God requires silence, stillness and solitude. Identify a place that will not compromise these essentials

4. Iron Sharpens Iron

When you meet with your accountability partner (“Who’s that?” you ask? Stay tuned for another key practice installment in the weeks to come.), make sure you discuss your faithfulness, or lack thereof, to your devotion time.

5. Incremental Progress

Your initial devotion plan should be for approximately three-months. After the initial period is complete, make any appropriate adjustments to the tool, time, or place and continue to be faithful in this practice.

This is one of several key practices of the men and women who are as God desires them to be. Keep an eye out for more practices featured on our blog in the coming weeks and months.