This blog series describe three essential areas, one at a time, to keep in balance for staying effective and healthy in ministry. Balance can be illustrated by picturing a three-legged milking stool, and this post is about the second leg. Also, you can read about the first leg – Emotional.
The Spiritual leg of Balance is often the most overlooked area of a ministry couples life. Everyone assumes that, since these couples are doing God’s work, their spiritual lives must be in order. However, this is not always true. Even though ministry couples are held to a higher standard in their walk, it doesn’t guarantee that their spiritual life is balanced.
Often their lives are so busy doing ministry work that their prayer life is diminished or nonexistent. It is very easy to slip away from the constant need for a relationship with the Lord. Researching the Bible for that week’s message does not mean that a person is having a meaningful relationship with God or that his or her spiritual life is in order. It is often just an intellectual exercise to prepare for that week’s sermon.
The missing ingredient for a true relationship with God is often the heart. To begin to have a healthy spiritual life we all need to use both our heads and our hearts. It is connecting that sixteen inch area of our body that is often missing. You can know Hebrew and Greek, memorize scripture, put together a stirring sermon and still be missing out on a one-on-one relationship with Jesus. In the book, The Shack, the author’s relationship with God is so close that He is called “Papa”. This is the type of relationship God wants with us. The only way to cultivate a relationship with anyone is to spend meaningful time together. This is especially true in developing a significant relationship with the Lord. God wants both our heads and our hearts. He also wants to have an intimate relationship with each of us through prayer. Cultivate a time when they share their hearts with the Lord in prayer both together and separately.
A stumbling block for many ministry leaders that negatively affects their spiritual life, is paying too much attention to the criticism they receive and not enough to the praise. If you see a clean white canvas with a small black dot on the corner, your eye goes directly to the flaw. Likewise, if on Sunday morning you receive 50 compliments and words of encouragement and one word of criticism it’s easy to feel like you have failed. Ministry leaders need to be encouraged not to let criticism affect them negatively.
A good analogy is the story about a high school student who entered the science fair. His experiment was to prove that ducks were able to float because their feathers are coated with a layer of grease. To prove this he filled a wading pool with water and a baby duck. Very slowly he added detergent to the water. Eventually the duck began to sink, panicked and died. He proved his point but the duck lost its life.
It takes a lot of “duck grease” to let the citicism he or she receives roll off their back. A prominent pastor was asked, after he suffered a moral failure, how it could have happened. His answer was: “A pastor is supposed to have a tender heart and thick skin. I guess what happed to me was that my heart became hardened and my skin too tender.” This is a danger for any spiritual leader.
All ministry leaders need to be encouraged to cultivate a strong relationship with Jesus. Satan is out there waiting to pounce. He loves nothing more than taking down ministry leaders. If the spiritual leg of a ministry leader is shortened, he is particularly vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Just like the plumber’s home that has the leaking pipes,ministry couples often are lacking in terms of their spiritual lives and need to be encouraged to strengthen their relationship with Jesus.