Ministry is like a lot of other professions, in respect of how the job is carried out. Often there are “hot” words that are used, describing some aspect of what we are doing, or what we are trying to get others to do. These “hot” words may not teach anything new, but just be a better way of reinforcing something that we know that we need to be doing.
One thing about being out of full-time ministry for 25 years, I missed a lot of these words. This year, when I went to “Summit” at ACU (my first lectureship since the late1980’s), there was one word that I heard a lot of people using, and it may not be new — may just be the first time I have heard it. There were a lot of people talking about being “intentional” in all the different aspects of our Christian life.
“Intentional” — don’t just let things happen, but plan, and purpose, to do what needs to be done. One of the classes where this concept came across, was Eddie Sharp’s class on “Preparing to Discern and Do God’s Will.” The first point that he made was “Choosing the Path of Spiritual Formation.” Everything about that says that we have to be “intentional” in the development of our Spiritual life.
This morning, as I was reading (Psalms 140-145), I came across a passage that reminded me of this class.
“Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and guard my lips.
Don’t let me drift toward evil
or take part in acts of wickedness.
Don’t let me share in the delicacies
of those who do wrong.”
(Psalm 141:3-4, NLT)
That reads to me, that David is choosing a path for his life (and is very intentional about it) and is asking God to help him navigate that path.
I believe, that all too often, we want to grow, develop, and be formed into the image of Christ; but we don’t have a “plan,” or are not “intentional” in doing that. We will not grow as we ought, until we ask the Lord to help us and have a specific direction for doing that. In other words, it is not going to happen accidentally.
Eddie Sharp gave 5 things to do, to be “intentional” in our Spiritual formation. I am going to mention one this morning, the last one — have a daily period of self-examination. At the end of each day, have a time when you reflect on what has happened that day: when today was I walking with God, when was I resisting God, and were there times, when I was against God. Look at how close, and how far away, you were from God during the activities of the day. Then spend time talking to Him about the successes and failures of the day, and ask for the strength to do better on the next day.
“…Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.”
(Psalm 143:8, NLT)