Focus. How elusive it is. Demands of ministry. Urgent needs. Crises. Schedules full to overflowing. Never-ending stress. Intensity! Those of us on the IBL team face these conditions more often than not. I’ve often said to my wife, “We’re so busy we don’t know how to cram one more thing into our schedule.” How about you?
Busyness and stress too often characterize ministry these days. Many of the ministry leaders we encounter are deeply concerned about the numerous pressures and responsibilities placed upon them. They cry out to God (or should) concerning the overwhelming burdens they carry.
An overburdened schedule and an overly long list of responsibilities is Satan’s battleground.
But, my heart has been encouraged as I’ve taken notice afresh of just how hectic Jesus’ three-year mission on earth was. Crowds constantly thronged Him; people came to Him with their unending needs wherever He went; political and religious authorities brought to Him their contentious (and duplicitous) questions, and He was continually discipling his chosen twelve. It was relentless. Intense. But in the midst of this frantic schedule, our Lord kept focused on the one thing He knew was essential to holding it all together: His own uninterrupted time with the Father.
That’s it—that’s the “secret” that has never been a secret. It is always laid out right before our eyes, and it is taught with fervor throughout all of Scripture. In Psalm 5:1-3 the Holy Spirit inspired King David to say, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”
Did you catch a sense of frequency in that last verse? Daily, David sought out his God in praise and prayer. Again in Psalm 57:7-9 David teaches us, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake my glory! Awake O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.” I ask again, did you catch a sense of the frequency in these verses? Daily, David sought his God in praise and prayer.
Our Lord is the supreme example to whom we all must look for wisdom. After a full day of teaching and healing, Mark 1:35 records, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.” On yet another busy day after ministering to His disciples, teaching and feeding the 5,000, the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to write (6:46), “After He had taken leave of them, He went up to the mountain to pray.”
You can easily see the pattern our Lord established. In the midst of the intensity of demanding ministry Jesus took time alone to gain the perspective and peace that only a deep conversation with the Father can give.
It is my pattern to rise early in the morning to talk to God (in prayer) and to listen to God (through His Word). I must tell you, during those days when ministry demands are pressing in, only He has the ability to provide the proper perspective to ministry. Jesus knows what it is to live a harried life. He knows what it is to live with pressing responsibilities, unrealistic expectations, and demanding relationships.
Have you made that life-long commitment to consistently sit down with Him for a protracted period of time and tell Him what is on your heart? Have you? If not, my brethren, do so now! And then let Him quiet your heart through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and give you the peace only He can give. Through that focus, let Him give you His perspective on your life and ministry.
Straight Ahead! (I Corinthians 15:58)