3 Reality Checks every Pastor, Church Leader AND their Spouse Needs to Strengthen their own Lives, Families and Congregations
Hearing from God is more than just “checking in” in the mornings. It’s your vital lifeline throughout the day. Bowing is a great start to anyone’s day.
“The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous” – Psalm 146:8 NASB.
I realized something early on in ministry: I need God. I REALLY need Him. Hearing from Him isn’t just a great idea; it’s essential.
Have you ever had this attitude?
“I don’t need help. I don’t want to be seen as needy.”
“God gave me principles to live by, all I need to do is obey them and that will please Him.”
I’ve had these attitudes. In my self-reliant, arrogant and selfish flesh, I’ve trusted in my own strength, energies, vigor, skills, pedigree and education to get me through difficult circumstances. I’ve relied upon these good things to get me out of challenging circumstances. Truth is: they will always fail you. First of all,
Reality Check #1: What Roles Does God Play in Your Life?
First of all, He’s your Dad: What I’ve come to recognize is the truth that God is God, and I am NOT. I need God; He doesn’t need me. I need to be hearing from God daily. He’s my Dad. He created me. He owns me. He loves me. He is forming me right now (ok, I make my own choices too, but He uses those for my benefit). He knows me. He cares about and for me. God won’t forget my name. He won’t forget what you’re dealing with. He certainly WON’T forget your prayers! He is gentle and doting on me. He sent His beloved Son Jesus to die in my place. He owns me TWICE over, bought with His Son’s blood.
In addition, He’s your Boss: As a church leaders, He’s also my Boss, right? Come on, I get it: your elder board is your boss, or your Senior Pastor, or your Executive Pastor, or your Deacon Chairman. But really? Who OWNS you? These people didn’t die on your behalf to give you life. Sadly, with all the turnover in the job status of American pastors, it’s less than likely you will still be involved with these people thirty years from now. God has a mission, an agenda, and wants us involved in making that agenda translate here on earth.
Therefore, if God is my Dad and my Boss, then what do I need to know from Him? How often should I talk to Him? More importantly, how often should I be hearing from God? Is there a good posture to position ourselves in for this?
Reality Check #2: Hearing From God by Bowing?
Psalm 146:8 tells me that IF I “bow down”–think humility, respect, reverence, trust, or perhaps even fear–then God will “raise [me] up.” I currently live in America, where I can’t think of a single reason people in America physically bow to anyone, except in martial arts tournaments or on stage during applause (both of which aren’t your average person’s experience)! Looking outside this country, I see people bowing out of respect. I see people bowing to report to someone of higher authority. In America, we typically do that by reporting to someone’s office by standing in front of their desk, at attention.
To draw a parallel, bowing is a great gesture to show yourself (or maybe to prove in your own mind) that you and God are not equals. Hearing from God begins this way. Just like we and our parents were not on the same level of authority in our home growing up (although many of us thought we were!), God is much higher than us. A daily bowing to God is appropriate, as we check in with Him at the start of our days. This could be metaphorical, but with the physical bowing comes a recognition in the brain that we are actively lowering ourselves. Our heart humbles itself with the recognition of dependence on God. While doing so, ask God these three questions:
What does He want to say to me today?
What actions need His help (hint: all of them!) today?
What counsel do you need from Him today?
Reality Check #3: Will He Raise Me Up?
Psalm 146:8 suggests that if we are bowed down, then He will raise us up. Since you’re asking if He will always bless you and give you what you need to get His will accomplished, listen to this brief story.
Here’s a brief story:
A family’s dishwasher sprung a leak in the disposal valve and flooded the kitchen with water. The insurance deductible was so high ($5,000) that this new defeat was a crushing blow to any sense of income they had, because the husband just lost his job, had a brand new five week old baby, and they were flat broke, incurring debt as well as government assistance. The cabinets were destroyed, the appliance hose was ruined and backsplash was in need of replacement as was all the wood flooring. The family couldn’t pay unless it was made in monthly installments.
If there were a flood in GOD’s kitchen (which would never happen), and He needed a plumber to come out and fix the kitchen sink and dishwasher, as well as the wood flooring, then God wouldn’t be surprised or shocked. He always pays for the work He orders done.
Here’s the lesson from this story:
God always pays for the work He orders. If He wants something done, He will do it and be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6)! If He wants YOU to do something, He will provide for you. Pastor Nelson Searcy, in his Senior Pastor Coaching Network on Stewardship has said many times, “Where God Guides, He Provides.”
The answer is YES, He will raise you up. Does He want you to make disciples? Then pay attention, He will show you. Does He want you to start a church or a new ministry initiative? Although He WILL make you struggle, He will pay for the equipment, as well as provide for your family, accomplish the vision, and oversee that newfound ministry to health. Provided we stay bowed down, hearing from God.
Hearing From God
Finally, if you ever struggle with hearing from God, a great place to start is by reading Dallas Willard’s Hearing From God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. You’ll gain rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with him in the work of his kingdom.
Therefore, before you go through the motions of all the busy tasks of the day, ask yourself: have I heard from God yet this morning? What did He say?