If you talked with high level leaders in the Church, you would expect a deep intimacy with God to be the norm, but often times, this is not the case. I have been to countless leadership conferences, talked to leaders of all ages, walks of life, and religious denominations in several countries of the world. When asked about the Eight Core Values, the answer is often that their greatest struggle is with Intimacy with God.
It’s Part of the Job, right?
As spiritual leaders, prayer is an essential part of our work, but leaders often admit that although they often pray for others, they don’t invest enough time in building a personal life of prayer. Biblical leaders, especially those who preach and teach, often study the bible only in the process of preparing the message, but not so much for personal growth. Consider this: if you are an active leader in the Church, Sunday can feel more like a busy Monday at the office than God’s sanctified Sabbath day.
Intimacy with God does not come automatically to spiritual leaders just because of the spiritual nature of their work. Rather, it is the result of an intentional decision to invest quality and quantity time with God, “abiding in Him,” as Jesus calls it (John 15:1-8).
The results will be deep and significant. Often times, it is not a matter of making great changes, but taking incremental steps towards intimacy, making small investments of time and action to draw near to God. Here are five small, incremental steps you can take to move your relationship with God to a deeper level:
1. Get Up 15 Minutes Earlier. If you have never done this, start with 15 minutes and work your way to longer devotional times when you wake in the morning. No matter how much quiet time you have now, adding 15 minutes will help you grow deeper.
2. Practice Fasting. It may be the least utilized weapon in the spiritual warfare for our lives and leadership. You can do a 40-day fast (like Jesus) if you abstain from food for one day a week for a year, giving yourself permission to forget or fail 12 times (try this by downloading the New Room app...).
3. Buy a Notebook and Write. Journaling is a powerful spiritual discipline. Choose your method: paper, an email to yourself, or a notes app on your phone. Writing is a powerful tool of the mind, even if you never read what you wrote (you will, though).
4. Get Together. Some spiritual disciplines are individual, but you won’t grow deep enough alone. Join with a small group of believers who want to grow also. Hold each other accountable, help each other grow deeper (try this). Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention attending corporate worship with a local church, beyond your small band of brothers or sisters. Being part of the Church body is God’s plan for every believer.
5. Serve Someone. Another powerful way to grow your faith is to serve others in the Name of Jesus. From sharing your faith with someone who doesn't yet know Christ, to volunteering at a local ministry, to going overseas on a mission trip, serving will grow your faith beyond self-centered devotion to a vital expression of the Kingdom.
Intimacy with God is about walking with God every minute of every day. A believer who lived 400 years ago said,
“It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God." (Lawrence of the Cross)
I invite you to take one or more of these small steps towards intimacy with God, not for the blessings you will get, but for the love of God.