By Dick Loizeaux
Recently, as I was struggling to keep up with the unrelenting pressures of ministry, I found I was running low on spiritual fuel.
You probably know the feeling. You’re physically tired, emotionally drained,
and your spiritual reserves
are running low.
Since I didn’t have time to either slow down or take a break from ministry I had to resort to “in-flight refueling.” For me that meant picking up Calvin Miller’s “The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy” and saturating my heart with prayer focused on God’s imminence and majesty. The ancient cadence and rhythms helps me escape my performance driven culture and personality, and so I can be refreshed at the well of simple, uncomplicated prayers of worship.
Your method of refueling is probably different. But we all need the in-flight refueling of a rich devotional life of worship and prayer to sustain us through the long and often turbulent flight of ministry. All pastors know our spiritual tanks run low at times. The issue is not that your tank runs low; the issue is do you know how to use private worship to refill your tank so you can stay aloft? Psalm 147 shows us the importance of the fuel of worship.
"Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God! How delightful & how right!
The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.
He counts the stars and calls them all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!
The Lord supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust.|
Sing out your thanks to the Lord" (Psalm 147:1-7 NLT)
Psalm 147 shows us 5 ways our personal worship fuels our ministry.
1. Worship infuses my ministry with joy.
"How good it is to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how right!" (Psalm 147:1)
Let’s face it; ministry is not always a joy. Often it is a pain. Sometimes it is downright depressing. Ministry is not our joy. God is our joy. The delight that fuels our soul comes from drinking deeply his beauty and majesty as part of our everyday life. Jesus came that we might be filed with his joy (John 15:11), not the joy of ministry. Worship infuses my ministry with joy.
2. Worship heals my ministry wounds.
"He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds." (147:3)
If you have been in ministry for a single day you have probably been wounded. Wounds of thoughtlessness and of ignorance. Wounds from arrogance and deliberate attack. If you are as flawed as I am some of the wounds are self-inflicted.
We are called to be wounded healers, and to minister with a limp. But how can we do that? The answer is to let the Lord touch our wounds with the healing balm of his limitless grace, tender mercy, and overflowing compassion. We experience that healing grace as we celebrate it, and praise and thank the Lord for it, just as they did in Psalm 147.
3. Praise releases God's power in my ministry.
"He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!" (147:4,5)
When we are running low on spiritual fuel sometimes it is because we are relying on our fuel, our power, our smarts and strength to minister. Worship disconnects us from self-power so we can refuel from the Lord whose power is absolute. Our Milky Way has 300 billion stars, and scientists estimate there are 100 billion observable galaxies filled with stars and that is only the observable galaxies. The God who calls all those stars by name is the power source for our ministry. Personal devotional worship of the Lord takes my mind off my problems, gives me a heavenly perspective of my problems, reassures me God’s power is sufficient for all my problems, and appropriates God’s power for my problems. Worship releases God’s power in my ministry.
4. Praise builds our ministry unity.
"How good it is to sing praises…The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel" (147:2)
When our personal worship overflows into our ministry so we worship together, it brings us together. You see, people who sing together cling together. The song “We Shall Overcome” unified and strengthened the civil right movement. Praise unified the people in Nehemiah’s day, unified Israel during their feasts, and unifies the throngs around the throne in the book of Revelation. Singing the Psalms together unified the early church.
Stop and think about it. The opposite of praise is criticizing and complaining. Criticizing and complaining destroys ministry unity. Praise and worship that is the overflow of a heart’s devotion builds ministry unity.
5. Praise keeps me teachable.
"How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension! The Lord supports the humble" (147:5,6)
Blessed are the humble for they shall be teachable. Blessed are the teachable for they shall be usable. Blessed are the usable for they shall be my true servants. There is no more powerful path to humility and teachability than worshiping the jaw dropping, pride breaking, mind-boggling, reverence inducing glory and greatness of God.
1. Do you believe Jesus when he said in John 15:11 (NLT): “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” Have you sourced your joy in the Lord or in your ministry?
2. Do you know what types of worship fuel you? Not just move your emotions but nourish your spirit? Meditating on hymns? Writing prayers? Praying scripture? Worshiping with a friend? Singing the Psalms? Do you know your God Language so you can worship according to the way God made you? (Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas; Discovering Your God Language, Myra Perrine). Experiment to find out what fills your tank.
3. On Sunday mornings do you really worship or are you there as an observer and evaluator?
4. Do you lead your ministry team in worshipping together? Is that worship duty driven or an overflow of your life?
5. Is a sense of reverent awe a regular experience of your devotional life? Do you often share with others the insights or impact of your devotional life?