Practicing Spiritual Discipline

by: Larry Davies | Aug 5, 2012

The topic this week in our spiritual leadership group was “Obedience and Spiritual Discipline.” I walked away from the class feeling more than a little guilty. My personal commitment to the spiritual disciplines has room for improvement. Like most I struggle to maintain a consistent habit of  prayer and personal study. I do regularly pray and I do regularly study the Bible but deep down, I feel that I can and should do better. If practicing the spiritual disciplines was an Olympic sport… I don’t see myself as gold medal material.

 

As a church leader, I want to set a better example. I shouldn’t struggle in this area, or should I? As I shared this with the group I quickly learned I was not alone. All of us struggle to consistently maintain spiritual discipline.

 

At times, we wonder: Has God really called me? Does God really have a plan for my life?

 

I found answers in a letter from the Apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.

 

“Look carefully at your call brothers and sisters. By human standards, not many of you are deemed to be wise. Not many are considered powerful. Not many of you come from royalty, right? But celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong. God selected the common and the castoff, whatever lacks status, so He could invalidate the claims of those who think those things are significant. So it makes no sense for any person to boast in God’s presence. Instead credit God with your new situation: you are united with Jesus the Anointed. He is God’s wisdom for us and more. He is our righteousness and holiness and redemption. As the Scripture says: ‘If someone wants to boast, he should boast in the Lord.'” (The Voice)

 

First we need to look carefully at our call. Everyone is called to serve God…. everyone! But everyone is called differently. What is your call? It’s important to periodically reexamine ourselves.

 

  • By human standards not many of you are deemed to be wise.
  • Not many are considered powerful.
  • Not many of you come from royalty, right?

 

So, if we’re not called because for our wisdom, power or royal lineage, then why are we called?

 

Good question and Paul provides a new kind of wisdom:

 

  • Celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise,
  • He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong.
  • God selected the common and the castoff, whatever lacks status, so He could invalidate the claims of those who think those things are significant.

 

Why emphasize foolishness over wisdom? Weakness instead of strength? Common over significance? Why is this important to understand? To invalidate the claims of those who think those things are significant. In other words:

 

  • It makes no sense for any person to boast in God’s presence. Instead credit God with your new situation:
  • you are united with Jesus the Anointed.
  • He is God’s wisdom for us and more.
  • He is our righteousness and holiness and redemption.
  • As the Scripture says: ‘If someone wants to boast, he should boast in the Lord.'”

 

I have no reason to boast. I wasn’t called to be wise. I was called to talk about God’s wisdom, God’s grace, God’s power and God’s righteousness. This is not about me. Everything I do is for God and I must trust in God to provide the rest.

 

The best spiritual leadership I can provide… points to God not to me.

 

I don’t have to feel guilty about my shortcomings.

 

God wants me to do better… but I was not called because of my innate spiritual abilities. I am called by God to be honest about my struggles and in the process help others.

 

Instead, we concentrate on improvement not perfection. John Maxwell writes about three particularly valuable assets for anyone who feels called to be a leader in the church or anywhere else:

 

  • Become highly teachable: Put yourself in learning roles whenever possible. Instead of talking in meetings, listen. Ask questions when you don’t understand. Adopt the attitude of a learner not an expert.
  • Plan your progress: Continually plan the books and courses you will pursue.
  • Value self-improvement above self-promotion.

 

Another way to face our spiritual shortcomings comes from Paul’s second letter to Corinth. “My grace is sufficient for you.” (12:9)

 

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

 

When you are feeling insecure: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

 

When you are feeling alone with your problems: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

 

I learned that I can do better when it comes to maintaining a regular habit of prayer and Bible study but I am not alone in my struggles and there are valuable lessons to be learned and shared with others.

 

But when all is said and done, I am thankful to hear God say, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

 

Thank you God. Amen.


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