One of the most influential teachings for my ministry came from Gregg Matte at the Breakaway Bible study my freshman year.
[This “leadership nuggets” series started yesterday and looks briefly at powerful basics I learned in my first year of college ministry. Hopefully it’s edifying as the school year starts – and it might be useful for other leaders in your ministry, too!]
Gregg noted that people regularly make their spiritual walk simply an overflow of their ministry.
So a daily walk with God comes only as a result of (and only connected to) their ministry opportunities. Ministry becomes the reason for and the topic for all prayer, time in God’s word, and other spiritual disciplines.
Instead, he said, the opposite should be true. Our ministry should always be an overflow of our walk.
I immediately got to apply that truth in my first year of college ministry. So I tried to make sure my prayer times weren’t dedicated simply to praying for my ministry. Scripture couldn’t just be a place to find teaching points. It even meant that if I was going to teach something to my group, I had better be real sure I had let God speak to me on that issue – either in the past, or at the very least in the days or weeks before I would be teaching that subject. If that teaching point wasn’t a part of my own walk – to some extent – how dare I try to “overflow” when I have no “flow” in the first place?
I needed plenty of “extracurricular” relationship with the Lord taking place beyond my ministry – even as intense as the commitment was – which certainly wasn’t easy for a task-oriented fella like myself. But my relationship with God had to overshadow my ministry work. ON PURPOSE. The walk was to be the reservoir; the ministry was to be the overflow.
It might be unwise to mandate absolute rules for ourselves or our student leaders (like “Don’t ever use the ministry text for your personal Quiet Time” or “Spend at least one day each week not thinking about your ministry at all”). But many of us we will need to take measures and make personal commitments along those kinds of lines. Because it’s incredibly easy for ministry activity to creep slowly but surely from being an overflow to being the reservoir.