Monday, October 1, 2012

Shaping Leaders Through Spiritual Disciplines

Shaping Leaders Through Spiritual Disciplines
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines

[I am teaching this in pastors’s seminars right now and thought you might enjoy it as well.]

Many spiritual disciplines can be found in the Bible and in church history that have been used to mold and shape people into becoming the leaders God wanted them to be. We will not try to cover all of them here. The list below has been drawn from Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, pp. 82-97). These should be a part of our everyday lives. We will also see that these disciplines are linked together.

1.) Solitude (Psalm 23)
            a.) Solitude is important to hearing the voice of God. Moses was alone on top of Mt. Sinai. Jesus often got away from the crowds to pray by going into the desert, the garden of Gethsemane, or somewhere else to commune with his father.    
            b.) Finding a place can be challenging in a house full of people, so we will need to really make an effort to do this. One option might be to go to the church we attend. Or, if we can’t get away, we should consider getting up before the rest of the family early in the morning (to do this, however, might require going to bed earlier!). If we do this at home, be sure to turn off the radio and television.
            c.)  Finding extra time to spend with God may change your life.  Maybe once a month or twice a year, find some extra time to spend with the Lord – maybe half a day or a day, or even several days.  Spend time in prayer, meditation on God’s word and on just being alone in the wonderful presence of Jesus.

Exercise A:  Spend 5 minutes in silence,
praising Him without speaking, listening to Him.

2.) Prayer
            a.) Most Christians pray, but not all do it consistently. Make it a point to have a consistent time of prayer everyday, especially on days when you are busy.
            b.) Prayer in our devotional time is best done in solitude or with one or two others. In this case, finding a quiet place where you can be alone is critical.
            c.) When you pray, set your list of needs and requests aside and just listen for the voice of God. Learn to be patient and comfortable in silent in his presence. You will find peace, beauty, and joy there.

3.) Journaling
            a.) Keeping a journal gives us the opportunity to go back and reflect on what God has said to us in the past, and journals are better than our memories in this regard.
            b.) You can journal while you are in prayer in your quiet place or at other times.
            c.) You can write about
·        what God has done or is doing in your life or about
·        what He says to you.
·        what you did or are planning to do that particular day or week
·        about your thoughts and impressions about other people
·        and many other things
d.) Be sure you buy a journal that is made of good paper so that it will last a long
            e.) When you fill up one journal, put it away in a safe place where it won’t get stolen or damaged in a flood and get a new one. You will likely want to pass this on to your children or grandchildren as part of your legacy to them.

Exercise B:  Write down below what you believe the Lord is saying to you right now during this training session.   Date _________  What God is saying to me: _________

4.) Study and Meditation
            a.) Sadly, many Christian leaders, including pastors, do not study the Word of God consistently. But 2 Timothy 2:15 and other passages command us to do so. People cannot live by only by ordinary bread; we need the Bread of Life (Matthew 4:4).
            b.) Make sure that you have the entire Bible, not just the New Testament, because many of life’s most important lessons can be found in the Old Testament. You will also want to have a modern translation, preferably in Tagalog, so that you can read it easily. If you have to skip a few meals to have the money to purchase one be sure to do so. Nothing in life is more valuable than the Word of God.
            c.) You should develop a pattern of reading the Bible daily.
            d.) You might want to develop a systematic way to study the Bible such as studying a whole chapter, or whole book at one time. Whatever you do, don’t just skip around. The Bible yields its secrets to diligent, faithful study.
            e.)  Spend time meditating on the verses that excite you, one’s that the Holy Spirit is pointing out to you.  Write down in your journal what God is sharing with you.  Come back to this portion of scripture a couple of times a day the coming week in order to hear more from God. During each day, think about the verse that warms your heart.
            f.) The best time and place for Bible study is when you are alone with God, or in small groups like the house churches offer.

Exercise C: Write a short plan for Bible reading and meditation. Answer the following questions: Where will you begin reading and how far will you read before reading in another part of the Bible?  How often will you study and meditate?  Will you write what you learn in a journal?

5.) Fellowship with other believers
            a.) Acts 2:42-47 gives us the example that the Christian life was meant to be lived in community with other believers. That’s part of what CPS is all about!!
            b.) No one is strong enough to live for Christ on their own—God made us in such a way that we need each other. Not only do you need others, they need you.
            c.) Together we can stand against persecution that often comes from family and friends.
            d.) We can learn so much about God from one another and encourage each other in our walk with him.

Exercise D:  Look at the five spiritual disciplines listed above and ask the Lord which ones He wants you to practice.  Then think of a plan to practice these spiritual disciplines.  Your plan should answer the following questions:

1.      When and where will you have your daily quiet time? ___________
2.      Which spiritual disciplines will you practice? __________________ ____________________________________________________
3.      When will you have fellowship with other Christians?  ____________
4.      Will you write in a journal?  __
5.      Will you plan some extra time with the Lord? If so when? ___________
6.      What is your goal in having spiritual disciplines? ___________________
Now share your plan with a partner or small group and pray for one another.

*All Scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

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