As the early morning light filters through the trees in my back yard, the morning glories along the deck railing lift their faces. I sit, open Bible and journal before me. The birds twitter a praise chorus, a squirrel scrambles from tree to tree, palpable peace invades my soul. The simple pleas of the Psalm become my own: create in me a clean heart; bless the Lord oh my soul.
I’d like to say that this is how I begin every morning. But honesty demands this confession: it doesn’t always happen. It’s not that I neglect Scripture. I’m in the Word most days. Because like many Christian leaders, I often read God’s word as part of my work: to prepare messages, write articles and books.
In ways, I feel lucky that I have a job that allows me to spend working hours focused on the Bible, but here’s the rub: because I spend time reading the Bible at “work,” it’s easy to neglect this discipline when I take off my “Christian leader” hat. And then I can’t figure out why I’m feeling burned out and empty.
Do you read the Bible devotionally? Simply read it and listen to God speak to you through its stories, poetry and profound theology? I’m not trying to evoke guilt, but simply to remind you what I have discovered in my own life. When I am researching a book or prepping a lot of messages, it becomes easy to ignore the spiritual discipline of study, the practice of reflection. I come to the Word looking for what I can extract from it, rather than allowing it to invade my heart and transform it. Even if you don’t have to read the Bible for your job or ministry, it’s easy to pray on the run, and not take time to let God’s word minister to us. We feel like Bible reading is an obligation, something we do for God. We forget what it can do for us.
What would happen to your soul if you could take some time to just let the Word minister to it? How might your ministry/parenting/work be transformed if you allowed God, through his Word, to fill you, change you? What if you were not just trolling Scripture looking for something useful, but had an encounter with even one word from the Word that was like a salve on your soul?
One of my favorite ways to study and reflect on Scripture is to engage in word studies—a simple way of digging into the truth of God’s word by focusing on one specific word at a time. Opening a concordance alongside the Bible allows me to see many facets of the gem of each word. Looking up the Greek or Hebrew brings a richer, fuller understanding—not so that I can impress others with my knowledge, but so that I can more fully know God and the story of his people that unfolds in the pages of Scripture. Because when that happens, I can see my part in that story, which continues to unfold. When we dig deeper into the Word, we discover it truly is living and active. When I truly listen to the words of God, and see how they are a part of what God is doing in me, I’m filled.
This post adapted from an article originally published on www.Buildingchurchleaders.com, a part of www.ChristianityToday.com.