Maintaining Your Pastoral Foundation
I always thought that when a house advertised ‘natural stone’ floors that this was a tremendous benefit. That was until we actually lived in a house with natural stone floors.
It turns out, that if you do not use the right detergent on these floors that you can strip their protective coating. Once that coating is gone, the natural stone is extremely porous and wears down with just simple use.
Only once huge cracks and holes started developing in these ‘top of the line’ floor tiles did we find out our mistake. The hunt began as we started trying to figure out how to fix these floors.
Finally the cheapest and easiest solution was to repair them ourselves.
So picture it if you may. Craig, myself and our team sprawled over various parts of the flooring, looking for cracks, filling each one meticulously with a filler.
Hours turned into days and after some serious back-braking, filling, scraping and buffing, the holes were filled.
But the job was still not complete. After all that hard work, the most important was still to come. We had to reapply that sealant. Only then would our hard work pay off.
And you thought the life of an Apostle was all glamour…
Somewhere between accidentally spilling filler all over my pants and trying to keep my son from ‘helping out’, I realized what a perfect illustration this was of good, solid leadership.
The Stuff That Keeps It Together
“Hebrews 10:16 This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them”(AMIV)
The principles that God has put into your heart has made a solid foundation. All of the teaching you have received here. All of the lessons you have learned through life. They are a foundation that will keep you strong for years to come.
However, let us not forget the sealant. There is a very special force that we have as believers that keeps all of this together and without it, your foundation is in threat of developing some serious cracks.
So what is it that keeps your foundation in good shape? Can you guess?
“1 Peter 1:22 Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to genuine love of the brothers, [see that you] love one another with a pure heart fervently:” (AMIV)
It is the agape love of the Lord that seals your foundation. It is the ultimate force that keeps everything together.
You can have all the right principles and know the Word from beginning to end. However, without the love of the Lord covering you, you are nothing but a clanging symbol.
It is truly the love of the Lord that is your foundation as a leader. As you make this foundation firm, you will have a starting point to build the Kingdom of God.
But it is so easy to become imbalanced. You can concentrate so much on study and on understanding, that you forget the wisdom of walking in love.
Without love, your knowledge is empty. Without love, you have a weak and porous foundation.
Without love, your knowledge is dry bread, lacking the vitamins to bring life to those that hear it.
Ezekiel knew it well when he spoke about dead and dry bones. Without love, your life has no shine to it. It is empty and you have nothing to pour out to the church.
How Your Love Erodes
If only we had known about that detergent! However it was just too late when we discovered our mistake. Unfortunately, it is the same when it comes to your own foundation.
Life comes at you like a hurricane and before you know it, all the love and peace you had disappears in the storm cloud.
Let’s look at some of the things that are a serious threat to keeping your heart sealed in His love.
I heard a saying once that goes like this,
“Life would be wonderful, if it were not for other people”
You can wake up motivated and ready to conquer the world, but it takes just one person to suck all the gusto out of you.
In ministry this is even truer. You pour your heart out to people and give them all you have, only to find them turn their backs on you.
It is discouraging. More than once you will swear to ‘never pour out again.’ Each rejection that you face erodes the love in your heart.
You become cynical and before you know it, you feel no life inside of you.
Very soon, just like those lovely floors of ours, you start to see cracks and holes in your foundation. The teachings and principles that you held so strongly to before start to erode.
You wonder if you heard the Lord correctly. You begin to doubt your call. You look at believers with new eyes. No longer do you desire to give them what they need.
You water down your words. You make it more appealing and simply give the people what they want to keep them happy.
Slowly what was buffed up and shiny becomes dull and lifeless. What went wrong? You lost your sealant! You lost the love that called and released you into His work.
It’s time to fill up the holes and get back to the basics of His love once again.
Becoming Too Busy
The “busy factor” is a sneaky but deadly corrosive ingredient when it comes to your spiritual life.
You get so busy serving the Lord that you forget to take time to fill up again.
You give out and give out and in the end you convince yourself that you deserve the reward because you are doing “His work.”
However, somewhere between receiving that genuine call and fulfilling it, you added a whole lot more of yourself that God never intended.
The work of God becomes difficult and you start to wonder what exactly Jesus said, when he told His disciples,
“Matt 11:30 For my yoke is mild, and my load is light.”(AMIV)
You do not find it easy at all. You spend your days having to push doors open and knock walls over.
You face opposition after opposition and you even trick yourself into thinking that this is the way that it should be.
The greatest direction the Lord ever gave me was the day He told me that He would open the doors. He said that all I needed to do was to walk through the doors that He opened.
He reminded me that He did not set before me a closed door, but an open one.
My job was to recognize those doors and to walk through them. Simple.
So why have you made it so complicated? Face the reality here. It is not the Lord that is driving you into the ground. It is your own busyness that is doing that.
When you do things God’s way, you will accomplish a lot and you will do it in rest.
God calls you to do what He is capable of. It’s time to rethink, because you are starting to undo the good foundation that God has laid in your heart.
Pressure From the World
This is a nasty force that can wipe your feet right from under you. You are walking along doing the work of God and you get side-swiped without warning.
From physical attack to financial attack, you find yourself surrounded. You know that the Lord has called you and that the road that you are on is correct, but the enemy keeps distracting you.
Before you know it, instead of doing the work of the Lord you are running around putting out fires.
You end up taking care of all the natural needs and cares that you forget to take care of your spiritual foundation.
Before you know it, you are worn down and your cracks are showing. You feel like the principles that you learned do not work.
You feel as if the Lord just left you and that you are carrying a mountain of care on your back.
You have fallen prey to the enemy and he has stolen your love and joy! It is time to change tactics.
When you are so busy putting out fires that you can no longer do the things that really count, it is a good sign that the enemy is eroding your sealant.
It is time to do some handiwork once again.
Your Own Need
The age old pity-party is the one sure fire way to strip clean your foundation in five seconds flat. The reason for that is because the love of the Lord is always an outward flow.
The moment you start looking at meeting your own needs in others, you reverse that love in one easy step.
This one follows directly after getting too busy and not taking time with the Lord. As a leader you will always have a lot to do, but the greatest mistake that you can make is thinking that you have to do all of that work without the Lord.
Suddenly your own needs will rise up. You begin to feel a deep hunger inside. You want others to notice you. You want others to recognize you.
Instead of getting this need met in the Lord, you start to look to your spouse and to those around you.
When they do not meet that need, you become angry and bitter. Now not only have you eroded the love that you did have, but you begin to strip your foundation so quickly that soon you feel barren and empty.
In place of love, you have bitterness. Instead of hope, you feel depressed. Instead of faith, you feel as if the Lord has abandoned you.
STOP! It’s time to retrace your steps and to recover fast. Have your five minute pity party if you must, but right afterwards, get back on track.
The enemy would be happy to leave you in your cycle of ‘woe is me.’
Here are some good signs that indicate your needs are raging out of control: (Tick off the ones that apply to you right now.)
Can you identify? If so, then your love sealant is way gone! It’s time to get patched up.
How to Overcome
Dealing with People
Here is the biggest mistake you can make:
Thinking that you can change the world.
As leaders there are those that will receive from us and will change. Even Jesus was clear on this.
“John 6:37 All that the father gives me will come to me; and he that comes to me I will under no circumstances [double negative] cast out.”(AMIV)
Those that came to Him, Jesus worked with and He saved. Those that did not come and receive from Him, He left to their own devices. He answered the questions of the Pharisees and He certainly put them in their place when they pushed it.
However, He did not go out of His way to try and save them! He said Himself that He was sent to those that were sick and needed a doctor.
Only if someone admits to being sick, can you begin your work.
So the key here? Work with those that the Lord has really sent to you. Give your heart and love to those that are willing to pay the price.
Jesus was tough! His disciples had to give up all for Him. He even tells us to carry our cross and to follow Him.
He was clear on what He expected from those that followed Him and you must be too. When God sends you someone, you keep on giving until He tells you to stop.
What Happens if They Fail?
That is not your care is it? When God sends them to you, it is the Lord that you are working for, not them. Do your job. Give as unto the Lord.
Then pray that what you have invested bears fruit. Whether they take what you have is up to them.
If you can see that the work you do is for the Lord, it will change your entire perspective. It will set you free and you will be able to let people go once again.
So who are you working with right now? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Did the Lord send this person to me?
2. Is this person committed to the Lord and to change?
3. Is this person committed to me to receive what I have to give?
4. What instruction has God given me about this person? (Journal to find out God’s will for this person.)
Finally, it is only the Lord that can give you the love that you need for others. You will find that love in His presence. Forgive and let the hurts go. Very soon, you will be buffed up and ready to go again!
Putting ‘Busy’ Behind You
If you have found yourself in the “busy trap” then I have only one word for you:
It is simple really. Stop it! Right where you are - in the middle of what you are doing. Put the tools down and get into His presence fast.
Sometimes that is all it takes. Close your computer and disconnect the phone. Find those few minutes alone with the Lord.
Take time to journal again and to hear from Him daily. Do not start your day without getting clear direction.
It is a simple matter of walking in the spirit again. Take time to develop that intimate relationship with Jesus again. You have let it go for so long, that you might find it a little difficult at first.
However do not pick those tools up again or work again until you are secure in Him.
Overcoming the World
Ready to kick some serious butt? Well that is the only solution for dealing with the world. I have some incredible news for you though.
Check this out:
“John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”(AMIV)
You see, the enemy would love to trick you into thinking that he has the upper hand, but it takes just a quick reminder to put him back into place again.
When the world is coming against you, it is time that you pick up your weapons of warfare so that you can get back on track again.
Instead of running around putting out fires, take your stand. Pick up the sword of the spirit and stand in faith. You do not need to keep getting beat down.
Deal with the enemy and get it over with, so that you can get back to what really counts.
Often all it takes is a conviction on your part. When you begin to realize that what you are facing is not of the Lord, you have what it takes to overcome.
You do not need to submit to this attack. It is time that you get on the offensive instead of cowering in the corner now.
Bind the works of the enemy and then turn your attention back to what really counts.
Sometimes all it needs is a quick wake up call. Once you get on track once again, you will begin to feel the life flowing into your spirit.
The faith, hope and love will start to increase once again. Often overcoming the greatest blockages is simply getting them out of the way.
The life is already there, all you need to do is remove those big rocks that are preventing the life from flowing out.
Your Needs? No Problem!
There is only one way to get your needs met and that is to put your running shoes on and sprint into His presence.
I think the problem is that too many folks get so super spiritual when they come into the Lord’s presence. Have you ever just taken the time to tell him what is really bothering you?
Sometimes that alone brings peace to your heart. Are you facing a conflict with someone right now?
Are you struggling with a situation right now? Why not tell the Lord about it.
Go and tell Him your problems and concerns. Let it all hang out. Complain to Him if you have to. You can tattle tale, spew and say it like it is.
Once you are done though, take time to listen for His voice in return. Just talking and not listening in any conversation is just plain rude and one-sided.
Perhaps the reason your needs are so exposed right now, is because you have not taken time to LISTEN.
By hearing His voice, you will feel your spirit filling up. You will feel as if the Lord is filling up all those holes in your foundation.
The more you spend time in His presence like that, your heart will be sealed and solid. It will be a foundation that can take a beating.
Not only that, but you will be so filled that you will have more than enough to pour out to others again and again.
What State are you In?
As a leader the Lord has called you to be a vessel. That means He will fill you up and pour you out again and again.
So it is safe to assume that your foundation is going to see some heavy traffic.
What kind of condition is your foundation in right now? Is it gleaming with His love, or are you showing signs of wear and tear?
You know what you need and now you also know what to do about it. Get going then and do some handiwork. There is an entire church that needs building and it begins with your foundation.
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