“I’m too busy to take a day a month to meet with God.” - Me, 10 years into being a pastor. There were places to go, people to see... Then there were administrative meetings, sermon preps, problem solving, budget discussions, and of course marriage and family concerns — I was a slave to “the tyranny of the urgent.”
But, I was “called” and what I did mattered. My calendar filled quickly each month with necessary things. I thought, “I’m busy, so I must be important.”
When I was a pastor, worship, reflection, prayer, and alone time with the Creator were luxuries I didn’t think I could afford.
I wasn’t taking my day off either… I mean, what would people think if they found out I wasn’t in the church office?
My soul craved communion and conversation with God, but scheduling “that appointment” pushed back my time with God almost daily.
Don’t Make The Same Mistake I Did... Don't Be A Pastor That's Too Busy For God
I now realize how mismanaged my life became and what it cost me in terms of personal, soul care. I felt like I was an injured professional athlete who didn’t remember how to compete as a healthy player.
Over time, the neglecting of my time alone with God affected my ability to lead, minister, parent, and love my spouse.
One day, a close friend I respected said, “the big difference between good leadership and great leadership is ‘perspective.” Then he offered the suggestion that “great leaders can’t afford NOT to spend time alone, listening to God.”
He gave me a suggestion... to try a new rhythm.
Pastors: I Dare You To Try This...
My close friend shared with me a guide to make every day rewarding and life-giving.
I’m happy to share some suggestions that will help you dedicate one day each month to spend with God.
I dare you to try this.
OK, if that’s an inappropriate motivation, how about, “I really want you to try this?” My sincere hope and prayer for you is that you will love the time so much that you’ll make it a regular monthly practice… I coach all of the pastors I work with to use this guide.
Feel free to email me what happens. I read all my emails. Or you can comment on this blog and tell us how it’s helped you…
A Day Alone With God Guide (Use Once A Month Or More):
1. Encounter And Enjoy The Presence of Christ
The most challenging part for me with a day alone with God is to NOT over plan or schedule our time together. I try to let God speak. I want my posture to be responsive. Think about the times you experienced God’s presence... What tools helped you connect? Beautiful surroundings, worship aids, music and singing? What helps you connect most quickly and deeply? Start with those things.
2. Slow Down And Breath Deeply
My toughest assignment is to clear my mind and adjust my heart to be with God. For me, I like to visit beautiful places like nearby parks... Once there, I begin to acknowledge God’s presence in silence. Weather permitting, I walk slowly and carefully observe the Creator’s handiwork in creation... Then I write down (in a non-rushed way) my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I write prayers, “Dear Lord, I invite you to invade my life today . . .
3. Take A Personal Soul Audit
Answer honestly the question about the status of your soul: How well is your soul in this season? What’s the current status? Give a rating to your response: on a scale of 1-10 with ten being the best, deepest, and most satisfied. Or rate your soul with the traffic light metaphor: Red light means I need to stop. Yellow light means I need to slow down. Green light means I am good to go. Another common metaphor is a fuel gauge: what’s in my spiritual tank?
4. Reflect On The Big Picture Perspective And Your Personal Calling Statement
If you have completed a tool we call the Post It Note Timeline, taught in our Free Video Leadership Course, then update it using yellow, pink, and blue post it notes. Pray through your statements. Revise where necessary. Ask God to increase your capacity to trust and rely on Him. Ask God for the courage to live for his approval rather than the applause of the crowd.
If you are not familiar with this tool then consider answering four simple questions:
What’s working well? What can I celebrate?
What’s not working well? What needs to change?
What in my life is missing? What gaps do I see or sense must be addressed?
What’s confusing? What needs to be clarified and why?
5. Take Decisive Actions And Address Questions, Issues, and Concerns
Spend some unhurried time writing down your responses to whatever arises in the above exercise. Celebrate the positive. Admit the blockages. Identify your emotion. Surrender everything to God. Schedule time in your calendar to do more refining work of answers to your questions, issues and concerns... Treat these times as any other non-negotiable appointment and follow through on keeping your appointment. Be sure to schedule your next day alone with God.
6. Update Your Roles And Goals
What are your primary life and ministry roles? For example: Family Member, Disciple, Friend, Husband, Shepherd, Teacher, etc. How does each role help you live out God’s unique calling in your life and ministry?
Take out your computer or tablet and ruthlessly examine how you spent your time last month in each role. What role needs more attention this month? Look for patterns to emerge. Set at least one goal for each role. Look back at last month’s calendar: How does your assessment from last month need to influence your plans for this this month? The integration of roles to goals to calendar means the most important assignments gets built into your calendar each month.
7. More Miscellaneous Tips:
- Get out of the office for the Day Alone With God. Go to a friend’s lake house, library, monastery, park, etc.
- Schedule your Day Alone With God a year at a time.
- Consider going with another person for accountability. Do lunch together to break up the day. Share prayer concerns when you return from the time spent alone with God.
- Avoid coming to the day with a “to do” list. These are simply suggestions of possible ways to encounter God and appreciate deeper intimacy.
- Write personal intercessors, asking them to pray for your time alone with God each month. Drop them a note of thanks before leaving the time alone with God.
- Be free to relax. Take a short nap. Walk. Do simple breathing exercises. Remember the beauty of this time alone with God is to be with God and enjoy God’s company.