I wonder if the inconsistency in my walk with God has anything to do with the fact that I can lead a “successful” church in America without being in love with Jesus. I’m sure I could blame American church culture, my position or a busy schedule for my lack of reverent intimacy. The truth, however, is that my sin and hypocrisy are a result of me. This truth leads us to some devotions for church leaders.
Francis Chan – Devotions for Church Leaders
1. I forget to love God.
It’s not like I don’t want to. In fact, when I’m deeply in prayer, it’s clear to me that there’s no place I’d rather be. I know that I love God. When I sit and think about Him, I’m filled with intense feelings of adoration. I’m convinced that He means more to me than my wife, kids or anyone else on the planet. I just forget to love Him.
We can argue that we’re busy doing ministry, which is how we express our love. But if that’s all God wanted, His words to the Ephesians in Revelation 2 would make no sense.
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary.” (NIV)
God recognizes the Ephesian church for their wonderful ministry. Yet He makes it clear in the next verse that they are not loving Him. He tells them, “You have forsaken your first love.”
What has always surprised me about that passage is God’s threat to remove them if they don’t start loving Him again. “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
God tells the hard working, sin hating, doctrine loving, persecuted church that He doesn’t want them around unless they love Him. He’s never been interested in unloving children. His desire has always been love. It was the great command in the Old Testament and the New (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37). Love was supposed to be the catalyst of all godly action.
When is the last time you came alone before your Father just to enjoy Him? If it has been a while, don’t waste your time reading this article. Get alone and adore Him. Pray that you would no longer merely love Him through your religious actions, but with the passion befitting a person in love.
When I first fell in love with my wife, I never “forgot” to call her or spend time with her. Rarely, if ever, did she get crowded out because I was so “busy.”
2. I fake passion well.
Leaders make the greatest hypocrites because of their ability to persuade and deceive. Rarely is there a pastor whose character exceeds his reputation.
If I were to ask those closest to you about your relationship with God, what would they say?
If I were to ask God the same question, what would He say?
If your family, friends and congregation have better things to say about you than God, it’s because you give them that impression. We do this because we can. God gifted us with an ability to communicate. Too often, we use this ability not to convey who we are, but who we want others to think we are.
It’s similar to the church in Sardis, to whom Jesus says, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1 NIV).
Others believed the façade, but Jesus knew the truth. He reminded them that He knew of their spiritual deadness. The hope was that it would jolt them toward true life.
God’s desire for all believers, especially leaders, is “life that is truly life” (I Timothy 6:19 NIV). You’ve all had times, hopefully, when you experienced this “life.” But when you aren’t experiencing it, you fake it.
Why? What’s the point in faking it when you can have it?
I once heard a Christian leader say, “I refuse to let my public passion exceed my private devotion.” As a leader, have you made that commitment? It could make for some pretty boring sermons.
It burdens me when I think we may have missed it. I ache when I consider how we are missing out.
Remember, being obsessed with Jesus is a good thing. Trading the truth for a lie doesn’t benefit you or any person you are leading.
This isn’t coming from a writer saying, “You must repent.” It’s coming from a fellow sinful leader saying, “We’re so stupid if we don’t.” You can have genuine intimacy with Almighty God today. Why not?