1. The human body always collects its debts.
Whether it’s the junk food we eat, a neglect of exercise over time, or wearing cheap jogging shoes, there’s eventually a high price to pay. Good health in middle age and beyond often depends on the habits established in the first half of life.
Whether it’s swimming, walking briskly for 30 minutes, or a weight-machine workout at Pivotal Fitness, I rarely want to do it. (My favorite exercise is walking from the fitness center back to the car!) But we can accomplish a lot of noble goals when we initially don’t want to do what’s necessary to reach them.
It’s called discipline. Read Paul’s reference to bodily discipline in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
For the sake of more energy for ministry, and the potential of more years to serve our Lord, where do you need more self-control as a steward of your body?
2. Spiritual giftedness and maturity don’t always coexist.
Too many Search Committees and church members hear a pastoral candidate speak and swoon over his polished oratory and exegetical prowess. They’re so excited about getting him as pastor they don’t ask second-tier references hard questions.
How did he get along with other staff members in his previous stint? How does he handle interpersonal conflict? How did his care for church members show? If you could hire him all over again, would you do it? Why or why not?
Please don’t make a decision on a pastor or associate staff member based on personal charm or public charisma. I’ve seen too many congregations bleed because they neglected thorough research of a leader’s character and relational skills.
3. God’s presence doesn’t depend on how I feel or whether I’m conscious of His nearness.
Living without a conscious awareness of His presence doesn’t alter the fact that He’s still with me.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God” (Isa. 41:10).
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16).
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
As a depression-prone person, I may go long periods of time without feeling His nearness. The enemy taunts me: Why do you keep serving someone who has abandoned you?!”
I reply, “No, I don’t feel His presence right now. But I know God is with me because His Word says so. And His Word is far more reliable than my feelings.”
The Lord’s presence is an objective reality, not a subjective one.
4. If you don’t ask, you already have your answer.
Prayer is a logical realm in which to apply this maxim. After all, James wrote, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).
Yet the statement isn’t always true in relation to prayer. Why not? God often chooses to meet a need or bestow a blessing that I didn’t ask Him for. Though I don’t want to miss a blessing because I refuse to ask, He sometimes intervenes and gives apart from my request.
Think of the applicability of this maxim to the horizontal domain.
*The restaurant won’t accept a coupon that expired yesterday unless you ask the waitress or manager about it. Please: be winsome, and don’t expect a positive response. Your testimony is at stake. Yet you’d be surprised how often the restaurant will gladly accept it.
*The appliance salesman won’t offer you a discount unless you ask for it. (So what if the item isn’t on sale? Their profit margin is large enough that the manager usually accommodates your request.)
*Due to her attractiveness, effervescent personality, and success you may think a particular lady wouldn’t think of going on a dinner date with you. But if you don’t ask her, you already have your answer. If she turns you down, you’re no worse off than before. Actually, you may be better off, since you’ll probably stop day dreaming about her. And if she says “Yes,” well…
Whether it comes to ministry, issues of daily living, or relationships, what is something you have learned for sure?