Maintaining one’s spiritual growth throughout one’s life is of utmost importance for the follower of Christ. We must all strive to seek Him every day, and dedicate time to learn from His teachings and to apply those teachings in our life. There are a variety of practices which can aid us in achieving the spiritual peace that God desires for each of us to experience through His love. It is important that we use each of these “tools” as appropriate in order to maintain our relationship with him and to grow spiritually into what God desires for us to be.
Now all of this is necessary in the regular and daily lives of all believers. Given the importance for the average believer, what does this suggest about ministers in their ministry? Those in leadership with the church must also maintain these disciplines if they are to sustain themselves throughout the course of their ministry. It is far too easy for Pastors to lose sight of their own spiritual growth while studying and preparing for sermons and actively engaging with the members of their congregations. Many take their profession as a Pastor to be their own means to spiritual growth, so they disregard the common practice of devotional study, private prayer and meditation, as well as times of solitude to connect with the Lord in peace. Those Pastors who disregard their personal spiritual discipline are often prone to burn out and other stressful and unhealthy results of the duties and responsibilities of a leader.
One of the most prominent principles that underlies the practice of the spiritual disciplines is the need for personal time with God. In all of the spiritual disciplines, it can be argued that for the minister, the personal time alone with God is the most important. If we are carrying out our responsibilities and obligations as Pastors, then much of our daily life is dedicated to the support and edification of the church proper. That is, the people of each of our local congregations. Day to day activities include corporate interactions with many people, ministering to their spiritual and material needs in order to help them maintain their spiritual discipline. But the Pastor must set the example in maintaining his or her own spiritual growth through discipline as they teach to their congregations. As leaders, Pastors must not only set this example, but they must continue their own personal growth with the Lord.
Even though a Pastor is a leader in the church, this does not mean that they do not have the same human needs that we all do. We are still human, after all. As Pastors, we are held to account for the same responsibilities as every member of the church, the chief among these being the maintenance of our spiritual growth and maturity. So a leader must set time aside everyday to spend their personal time in devotion to Christ, applying the spiritual disciplines to maintain their own health and well-being, and above all, their connection to our heavenly father. Their duties and responsibilities as Pastor come second to their duties and responsibilities as followers of Christ, and the pursuit of God through personal practice of the spiritual disciplines.
The title of Pastor is nothing more than a title. The role that we play is simply another responsibility that God assigns to those he calls. It makes us no different in God’s eyes from every other believer in our church, and the carrying out of our duties as pastors is much the same as that as every other believer within their own God given gifts. As such, we must be able to maintain our private and personal growth with God beyond our corporate activities. For Pastors, this is more significant in many ways than it is for other believers as our Corporate activity is regular, while our private life is compromised, the opposite being true for other believers. That makes the principle of maintaining our personal spiritual disciplines so much more important in the Pastoral context, as our spiritual well-being can impact the same for the whole congregation.
As a Pastor, I must focus my own efforts in maintaining my spiritual growth so that I can maintain my connection with God through the Holy Spirit. Through prayer, meditation, times of solitude, and bible study, I can keep my connection to the Lord fresh in heart and mind. While the Pastor certainly fulfills the corporate spiritual disciplines of worship, fellowship, confession, and charity through their duties in the church, we must also keep our private spiritual disciplines. I pray that I will be able to properly maintain my spiritual growth as time goes on, and when the Lord calls me, I’ll be able to hear Him loud and clear.