Day 1 of 7
PRAY: God, help me to have a fresh hunger for your Word. Move me from Bible reading to stronger Scripture engagement in my personal walk with you! Help me not just to read, but also to feed upon your every word, and feed my family and those I serve.
One temptation that Christian leaders face today is to look for tricks and quick fixes in their leadership efforts from the latest best-selling business books. Although many valuable principles and techniques are contained within business resources, the motivation and foundation for such material can easily become one-dimensional. The purpose of much of the business community is often primarily to improve the efficiency of the corporation, the flow of communication and, ultimately, the financial bottom line. While these types of materials certainly have their place, our most pertinent and potent resource as Christian leaders will always be the Bible.
This may seem obvious, but take a moment to reflect on two reasons why this is true.
The pace of the leader sets the pace for the team. Consider the speech that flight attendants give each time you fly. “In the event of an emergency and if you are traveling with others who may need your assistance, put your oxygen mask on first…” Your ‘go-to’ source of spiritual strength will ultimately be the one that influences those you lead.
In the hectic world of church leadership, it’s all too easy for pastors and church leaders to end up simply reading the Bible in hopes of preparing (or cramming) for next weekend’s message versus engaging God’s Word.
Consider the contrasts of reading versus engaging with Scripture:
READING THE BIBLE INVOLVES...
Gaining Factual Information.
Having your devotions.
Applying the Bible to your life.
Learning about Bible stories.
Simply surveying the words.
A dutiful discipline.
Reading the Bible.
ENGAGING GOD’S WORD INVOLVES…
Experiencing Personal Transformation.
Becoming more devoted to Christ.
Applying your life to the Bible!
Learning from Bible Stories.
Sincerely obeying God’s Word.
A compelling desire.
Letting the Bible “read” you.
When Jesus spoke the words – “People need every word that God has spoken” – he was not only identifying a great need in our lives, he was tapping a deep hunger in our souls. While fasting and praying in the wilderness, he asserted the fact that his greatest sustenance was the Word of God. The fact is that people deeply need God’s Word, especially those who preach and teach it.
Matthew 4 is the chapter that immediately follows the baptism of Jesus. At this event, you will recall that John baptized Christ, that the Spirit of God was present in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father affirmed Christ there: “This is my own dear Son and I am pleased with him” (3:17). Immediately following that affirmation of God and validation of the Spirit, the enemy endeavored to question and diminish the identity of Christ (“If you are God’s Son …” 4:3).
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Matthew 4 is the natural way in which Jesus wielded the Word of God (the Scripture) as his inspiration from the Father and his weapon against Satan. It flowed from his lips seemingly effortlessly and naturally. It seems that the Word of God kept this leader focused in heart and clear in his mind. He asserted that God’s Word was more important than his next meal.
In our ministries, we are called to respond to the greatest need of them all – spiritual hunger. Although physical hunger must be satisfied, Jesus emphasized that food alone is insufficient for life in its truest form. The words of God are the food we most need.
SCRIPTURE ENGAGEMENT IS WHAT LEADERS NEED IN ORDER TO REALLY “LIVE” AND LEAD AS GOD INTENDED.
Questions to Ask Yourself as a Leader: On a continuum of reading the Bible versus engaging it, where would you put yourself right now? When it comes to longing for the insights of the Bible, for the words that proceed “from the mouth of God,” how would you describe yourself? Do you anticipate it as much as your next meal? And, do you openly convey this hunger and passion for God’s Word to your family and those you lead?
Questions to Ask Your Team(s): As a ministry team, how dependent are we on the Word of God? How much of what we currently do could we do without it? Are our decisions as a team informed by Scripture? If so, how? When was a time we found direction for a team decision from the Bible? What role does the Word of God have in our ministry and in our meetings? What would help the people we serve become more fully engaged with Scripture?
Engaging the Word Yourself –
Read again through the Reading vs. Engagement chart (above) and ask yourself: Am I a Bible reader or engager? Write down your thoughts. Also, consider this question: What would make my time in God’s word more truly engaging?
Getting Others Engaged –
Plan a sermon series on a short book of the Bible (possibly an Epistle) that you will preach 3 months from now. However, before you start researching and preparing for it, tell the congregation your plan and ask them to assist you in your preparations for these sermons. Tell them that you simply want them to take the next week to read this book and that you are going to email them a questionnaire asking 3 questions about their experience. As you prepare the series of sermons, read their responses and find ways to incorporate a few of them into your messages. This will add a community dimension to your preaching that will help with Bible engagement.