We’ve spent the last few Wednesdays looking at various challenges we’ll face in walking out the vision God’s given us for ministry, and our reactions to those challenges. But even when we don’t run into major issues, we can still find ourselves running on empty just from the work itself. And that’s going to affect how well we live out God’s call on our lives—and God’s call is on every area of our lives.
As J. Oswald Sanders observes in Spiritual Leadership, “If a Christian is not willing to rise early and work later, to expend greater effort in diligent study and faithful work, that person will not change a generation. Fatigue is the price of leadership. Mediocrity is the result of never getting tired.” Therefore, if we’re truly engaged in God’s work, we constantly need God’s strength and wisdom in order to fulfill that work. So today, we’re going to work on becoming more proactive in pursuing God, so we’re relying on Him when new challenges hit.
So let’s tab up, and read read 1 Kings 18:36–19:18. Then think about this:
• How would you explain the dramatic shift(s) in Elijah’s behavior here?
• What things does God provide Elijah throughout the course of this passage? Name as many as you can.
• When have you “hit the wall” like Elijah did here? If God had asked you at that time “Why are you here?” (1 Kings 19:9), how would you have answered?
• How did God restore you? What did God teach you from that experience?
We may feel, like Elijah, that we’ve done everything God’s asked. We might have even seen great victories like Elijah had. Nonetheless, getting those things done takes something out of us, and suddenly we find ourselves incapable of dealing with the next challenge. Even if others might be able to look at us and say, “What’s your problem? Look at how well you’re doing!” we may still feel like Elijah did—alone, abandoned, like no one else understands what we’re dealing with. Even when God’s clearly with us. And God always is with us.
“[T]hose who are looking to us for spiritual sustenance need us first and foremost to be spiritual seekers ourselves,” says Ruth Haley Barton in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. “They need us to keep searching for the bread of life that feeds our own souls so that we can guide them to places of sustenance for their own souls.” So let’s step back and explore how we can remain, rediscover, reconnect, and be renewed by God’s presence and power, and where we might need that most right now.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV).
• When do you find it easier to try harder, or “be conformed to this world,” to get things done, than to be “a living sacrifice”?
• What would God’s “good and acceptable and perfect” will look like in those situations? (And if your answer’s “I don’t know,” what do you need to change in your thinking to find out?)
• Where do you find yourself overextended (or in danger) in either your ministry or your personal life right now? How can that situation be transformed so it’s fully in God’s hands, rather than yours?
• How can you invite God to continue to transform and renew the way you think in those areas, so this isn’t a “quick fix” but a new way you’ll do things from now on?
So go forth and do… or don’t do. But “do” it with a sense of pursuing God’s “good and acceptable and perfect” will. And may you, and your ministry, be transformed as you “do” so.
Great message and challenge Carl. Thanks for persevering in the ministry God has called you to. We are blessed by it!
Thanks, Linda. Kind of on that note (which would contain a response to yr middle sentence, too): Watch for tomorrow’s message (and if y’r interested, you can bypass point #5 and have as many as you want :)).
Yes, I’m being cryptic. But tomorrow, all will be clear. 🙂