Ministry inevitably produces painful accounts of struggle and spiritual dryness. But here's an oasis. We asked ministry leaders to share practices that refresh and energize them. As you read, reflect on what refreshes you, and consider adding some of their practices to your list.

Let Christ Do the Real Work

It's hard to talk about spiritual refreshment without talking about peace. When you drink deeply from God and trust him to act in your life, there is peace in your preaching and pastoral work.

Once, on my way to the podium to speak, I sensed the Lord saying to me: Remember, it's what I do with the word between your lips and in their hearts that matters. That was a tremendous lesson. If we do not trust God to do that, then he will let us do what we're going to do, and it's not going to come to much. But once we recognize that we are always inadequate, but our inadequacy is not the issue, we're able to lay that burden down. Then our satisfaction in Christ spills over into everything we do.

We often buy into a false model of success. We get the idea that we are supposed to make something happen, and so we need services to go "just right." The concluding benediction has hardly ceased before those in charge are asking each other, "How did it go?" We are not at peace when we try to manage outcomes that way. The truth is we don't know how it went. From God's point of view, it will be eternity before we know how it went.

In John 8, when Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more," I don't think she felt, If I work hard, maybe I can do that. She experienced Jesus' words as That's really possible. I can do that. That is one characteristic of preaching that comes from a peaceful, satisfied life.

Henri Nouwen said ...

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Fall 2011: Dark Nights of the Soul  | Posted
Busyness  |  Emotions  |  Faith  |  Formation  |  Soul
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