Recently I challenged my congregation to give God time equal to the time they spend watching television. According to Nielsen ratings, that is over three hours a day if you are age 2-11, and it increases as you grow older to twice that if you are over 65.
After the sermon, one Cardinals fan who happens to be very faithful in Bible study asked, “What about those long innings? Do they count?” Without really thinking, I replied, “You’re going to have to pray that they lose sooner!”
Sorry about that.
As spiritual leaders, it is a no-brainer that we need disciplined guidance from Jesus through prayer and Bible study. If this is going to happen, a spiritual leader must be intentional about four life choices.
1. Time. We have to take something out of our schedule in order to give time to receiving God’s guidance. We must learn to use discretion when prioritizing what is important. Something has to go!
2. Interests. I find that I do not have time for all the things I am interested in doing. I have a woodworking shop I use too little. I continue to buy books when I can’t possibly read what I’ve already purchased. I want to watch all the games, spend all my time with the grandchildren, travel, do multiple mission trips, and still sit on my deck chair enjoying the view.
To succeed in giving God time in the Bible and prayer, I must prioritize my interests and put aside or never start some of them. This is the most difficult of the choices that challenge me.
3. Place. Ultimately, I must create a place I can retreat to without regard to outside circumstances, but to get there I must retreat from my circumstances to be with God. A place set aside for personal worship where distractions are limited will save me time and help me get focused more rapidly.
4. Energy. I must give God the time of day that I am the most alert. This varies from person to person and as we age.
Leaders, choose wisely in these areas. Your ability to lead with God’s wisdom and guidance depends on how you prioritize time spent in prayer and reading his Word.
W. Stephen Williams is pastor of Simpson Missionary Baptist Church and an IBSA zone consultant.