The summer is a weird time in the life of the church. During the summer, church members usually take week-long vacations or shoot off for weekend getaways. Church attendance can be sparse every now and then. So pastors usually slim down the schedule for church life. Admittedly, summertime has a different rhythm than other parts of the year. Here is the danger; it becomes very easy to let pastoral vision and ambition vacation during the summer months.
But, what if you utilized the summer for gospel growth? Not only for yourselves, but for the people God has called you to shepherd. Utilizing the summer for intentional discipleship is going to take a plan. When serving as a full-time pastor, I found that having a strategic plan for personal and relational discipleship benefited my own spiritual health, as well as those I spent time with. It helped me be strategic with the majority of my time and kept discipleship before me as a focal point of life and ministry.
1. Have a Strategic Plan for Personal Discipleship
Eugene Peterson once noted that there is a tendency among pastors to treat busyness as a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him. We move and breathe in a culture that champions busyness. Many pastors treat crowded schedules and rushed conditions as evidence of importance. Sadly, this is often done to the detriment of a pastor’s own personal devotion and rest. It is very easy to delude oneself into thinking that experiencing intimacy with God is done by virtue of one’s busyness for Him. In reality, this can be nothing more than religious activity. Without personal spiritual formation, any pastor’s heart for God and others will dry up and wither under the heat of pastoral activity. The rhythm of summer will slow down the church schedule, so claim that time for personal discipleship.
This summer, develop a plan for your own spiritual rejuvenation. Work through a few books of the Bible, work through solid Bible study curriculum, choose a few books to read leisurely on the porch in the cool night air. Get out of the office for intimate time with God, enjoying His beautiful creation. Find ways to breathe in and enjoy the goodness of summer while praying and thinking about your ministry calling and context. Essentially, be strategic about claiming the energy and time to study and pray on a regular schedule, if needed for hours or days at a time (Acts 6:4). Personal time prayerfully reading, reflecting and communing with God through His Word are vital to a pastor’s health, and by implication, the health of his ministry.