Too much Word and not enough Spirit you puff up. Too much Spirit and not enough Word you blow up. With the Word and the Spirit together, you grow up. - Anonymous
How you seek this kind of balance in ministry is what this post is about.
Just before I went to seminary for a four and a half of preparation for ministry, the Lord impressed on my heart a verse from Luke chapter 4. I started meditating upon it, but didn’t get it until the end of my first semester.
I went to church at least five different times during the week. I lived on campus, so I attended our school chapel time, midweek bible study, Friday nigh prayer meetings, than both Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. I had wonderful, Spirit filled professors, great prayer meetings and church services, but my personal prayer time, bible reading and meditation and my personal evangelism gradually came to a standstill. My passion, my fire was going out little by little. I thought to myself, I’m in the right place, why am I neglecting these vital spiritual disciplines?
Now, I am a big fan of theological education, I disagree with those who think you don’t need it. Unfortunately, many young people enter seminary full of zeal and fire but graduate dusty, dry, or sometimes spiritually dead. This is one of the reasons Christian kids lose their faith and drop out of the church when to go off to college. Knowledge and learning is great, but every scholar, student, minister and leader would have to seek that balance of having both knowledge and Spirit combined so that they can grow up and not dry up or blow up.
Knowledge mixed with a little dose of prayerlessness does something to you. It puffs you up! Sooner or later you begin to feel like knowledge is all you need. Imagine doing a three or four-year ministry preparation where your prayer life does not exist, your bible reading and meditation is lifeless, and your personal evangelism is dead.
You may say, wait a minute Walter, this is Bible school right? Are you not in the word of God, how can you dry up? Our constant exposure to divine things does not guarantee our continued stewardship of it. Sometimes if we are not careful we can easily begin to handle divine things in the most casual ways. When familiarity sets in and that deep sense of wonder and awe begins to fade, it’s a sure that we are drying up.
In Luke 4:1 the Bible says that Jesus ” driven” into the wilderness for his time of preparation for His ministry. I want you to notice that He went full of the Spirit, full of zeal, full of fire, full of power, full of passion going in:
LUKE 4:1 says, And Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days.
I would also like for you to notice that he came out of that time of preparation for ministry still full of the Spirit’s power, passion, fire and zeal:
LUKE 4:14, 36-40 says, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country…
Here is the point – He did not return dusty, dry or spiritually dead. Learning is good, knowledge is great, but they are useless without the Spirit’s power. We should never let our academic pursuits or our jobs drain us of supernatural power. I would like to encourage every young person getting ready to enter seminary or is already attending seminary or bible school – keep the fire burning. Some of you young people going away to college or university for some preparation or training for your life’s mission – no matter your preparation – keep the fire burning.
For those of us in ministry, I’m not talking just about fulltime pastoral ministry. If God has called you to write, teach, lead, in the church and in the market place, let nothing drain us of the supernatural and spiritual power we will need to do our ministry.
The following are a few practical suggestion that will help you stay spiritually alive during your preparation and ready to go out and change the world:
- stay humble
- stay disciplined
- stay hungry
- stay holy
- stay prayerful
- stay grounded
- stay being yourself
- stay passionate
- stay restful
- stay active
- stay in a visionary
- stay teachable
- stay compassionate
- stay in love with people
- stay deeply Trinitarian
- stay curious
- stay a learner
- stay on fire
Please add to the list and join the conversation!