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Spiritual Disciplines in the Life of the Minister – Part IV

The Discipline of Evangelism

Some men do not need to plan their evangelism, it happens as spontaneously as breathing. On the other hand, many pastors find evangelism hardly happening. They are in their study most of the day, or they are visiting other Christians. If that is you, then you must structure things so as to interact with unbelievers. I would firstly say, make sure you pray for opportunities to witness.
Second, keep a list of people attending your church, whose salvation is in doubt. Set up times to meet with them. Third, try to follow up on unsaved contacts that your church gives you.
Fourth, if you haven’t already, work on some kind of corporate evangelism that your church can be involved in. Different communities require different approaches. Nevertheless, we should plan it somehow.


The Discipline of Family Worship & Family Time

I would not think that many pastors plan to neglect family worship and family time. But I also don’t think many pastors plan not to. If you don’t plan not to neglect family time, the chances are, it will happen. By family worship, I mean a time together of loving God, learning from Him, speaking to Him, singing to Him. It doesn’t have to be advanced. It doesn’t have to be long, and when the children are little, it shouldn’t be. Just don’t let it be superficial or empty – kids pick up on that quickly.

Try to be consistent – after supper on as many days as you can, or just after breakfast on as many  days as you can. Just like your own times of devotion – you can vary the elements, but the point is to have a heart for God together. The point is to have a love for God as a family – not as individuals going their own way.

Ministry tends to crowd in as much as you will take, so you must also structure a break. Have a day that your family knows they have you to themselves. Plan some times to be with your wife alone. Take your children on dates. Maintain the family dinner table. Do not let it disintegrate into TV dinners, into the teens being everywhere else. Foster a culture that dinner times are family gatherings. Exceptions can be made, but the rule is gathering together for dinner. Read, read, read to your children.


The Discipline of Bodily Health

We pastors tend to live a sedentary lifestyle. A lot of sitting, and a lot of reading. We might walk short distances here and there, but it is often the case that we get little physical exercise. When we visit we get more coffee than we need, and cakes as well. We are sometimes up late and up early. If we neglect our bodies, not only will this shorten our lifespans’, but it will decrease our usefulness while here. Spurgeon said a pastor filled with depression often simply needs a stiff breeze in his face and a good walk in the woods. Spurgeon says this won’t give grace to the soul, but it will give oxygen to the body, which is next best.

Paul says bodily exercise profits a little. He didn’t mean to say it is useless. He was comparing its usefulness to godliness. It does still have some profit. This body needs to be maintained with exercise, decent eating and adequate rest. However you do it, make time for some kind of exercise, even if it is a good walk around your neighbourhood for thirty minutes. Do not think that eating anything is a sign of spirituality. Just because you are a Baptist, does not mean that gluttony is allowed. Food is one area where we sometimes have to deny ourselves something quite lawful to maintain the atmosphere of self-discipline. Continual indulgence in one area, makes it more likely in all other areas.
Do not neglect your body’s need for rest, and do not oversleep.

Now I am sure you might chide me for not including some other disciplines – the discipline of giving, or of memorising Scripture, but I am confident you can see where those might fit in under the ones we have listed. A pastor who gives himself to devotion, intercessory prayer, study, pastoral nurturing, evangelism, family worship and bodily health will not have a field overrun by the thorns of spiritual apathy, dryness or ineffectiveness. The thistles of poor family relationships will be less likely, the hard ground of indifferent church members less likely.

Solomon said something else. He said, “He who has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down, and without walls”. We know that in the ancient world, a city’s walls were its main defence against enemies. Solomon is saying, the man without discipline is defenceless. Against what? Against all that wars against his soul and his effectiveness. These disciplines are bricks. The Spirit of God is the power on that wall defending you against ruin. If the city of your soul is without the wall of discipline, it will take a miracle to defend you against attacks. The Spirit will not do a miracle for you when He could have simply used your obedience.

So, pastor, if the man is not Solomon, but the Lord Jesus, and the field is your life – what does He see?




  – David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa

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