We have all kinds of resources these days to keep us connected: Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, etc. In a digital world, being connected has never been easier. But what about the pastor’s connection to Christ? In John 15, Jesus says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” He reminds His disciples, after they have been busy doing His work, that they can do nothing without Him.
He’s about to finish up His ministry on earth, and one of the final lessons He leaves for them is the lesson of staying connected, not with the world, or with their families, but with Him. It’s very easy to get busy. This fast-paced world makes it almost impossible to slow down or take a break, but staying connected to Christ requires us to pause every now and then.
We can’t be connected to Christ if we are busy. Most men can only be focused on a single thing at any given time. And while some men can be decent at multitasking, very few men do it with excellence. We usually tend to focus more on one thing to the exclusion of other things. What are you focused on? As a pastor, what demands your attention?
If your primary focus is your ministry, then your focus is misplaced. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” David said in the Psalms, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Even pastors (actually, especially pastors) need to make sure that they are seeking God’s face. It’s not just about sermons or wisdom or budgets or God’s blessing on your ministry; it’s about seeking God for you! You need spiritual nourishment too.
Wouldn’t it look kind of funny if the chef of a five-star restaurant was anorexic? If the chef isn’t feeding himself right, how is anyone going to trust the food he prepares for others? If you aren’t getting the spiritual nourishment you need, then at some point your ministry will wither and die. He is the vine; you are the branch.
Are you connected? Are you sitting at the feet of Jesus daily, getting connected to the life-giving vine? If you want to be the source of life for your ministry, who or what is the source of life for you? In Psalm 1, David talks about those who meditate on the word of God “day and night.” These are people who are connected to the Bible in such a way that they think about it constantly. They are focused on getting nourishment from the word of God.
And look at the result: they are planted (by God) like a tree near a river. They are fruitful because they are connected to the river, and depend on that river for their nourishment. And “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
Is your ministry prospering? That’s not a question about numbers. Many modern ministry leaders mistake numbers for godly prosperity. By that metric, Noah wasn’t very prosperous. He preached for 120 years and only had seven converts. What a failure! Fortunately, God doesn’t look at the number of converts or the number of people who walk the aisle or the number of baptisms you have each year or the number of members in your church to determine your level of prosperity.
God is interested in one metric only. There’s just one thing that determines how successful you are in God’s eyes, and that’s how obedient you were to Him. A farmer’s job isn’t to produce crops. The farmer’s job is to sow the seed, water the seed, and make sure the conditions are good for that seed to grow. But the actual growth of the crop is beyond his control. Likewise, the growth of your ministry is beyond your control. Your number one job as a ministry leader is to sow the seed. “Be instant in season and out of season,” Paul told Timothy.
You just keep sowing that seed and watering the seed and make sure your church is a healthy environment for growth to take place. When the conditions are right and the time is right, the growth will occur on God’s time, when the season is right. Remember that tree in Psalm one? It brought forth fruit “in his season.” If your ministry isn’t growing, there are only two possible reasons why: either the conditions aren’t right, or it’s not the right season. You just do your part, and let God worry about His.