The Pastor, Baby Steps, and a Deeper Spirituality, Pt. 2

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This post will make more sense if you’ve already read pt. 1

Do you feel like your depth of intimacy with God is an inch deep, while your ministry responsibilities stretch you a mile wide? I want to help you experience God beyond the shallows. I believe it’s possible to go deeper.

Don’t you wish you were more deeply spiritual? Something keeps reminding you that your personal intimacy with Jesus is the most important thing, but there are so many other things that pull you in the opposite direction. There is the person you are and the person you want to be, and you wish you could close that gap. You can. It can close. It will take a lifetime, but it can close little by little.

Movement in the right direction, no matter how small, will eventually get you where you want to be. Moving toward a deeper spirituality through the spiritual practices that will get you there (Bible reading, prayer, meditation, devotional reading, journaling, etc.) is not about giant steps but about baby steps. Here’s three out of nine steps to help you get started.

Step Four: Set specific, realistic, and easily attainable goals.

Don’t settle for vague goals. “I’m going to spend more time with God” is too fuzzy. Be more specific. How many days a week do you want to set aside time for God? Which days will work the best for you? Where will you have these meetings? How much time will you spend with God? Specific goals lead to specific results. Unclear goals lead to unclear results.

Be realistic. Don’t set the bar too high. In fact, I believe the bar should be so low that you can’t help but step over it. It’s better to have easily attainable goals and achieve them than to set yourself up for possible defeat with goals that are too ambitious. If you fail you’ll feel discouraged and unmotivated.

I think a realistic and attainable goal to begin with would be something like three days a week for fifteen to twenty minutes.

I remember suggesting to one pastor that he start with ten minutes, three days a week. He asked me, “What good could ten minutes do?” I replied, “Right now you’re doing nothing. What good is that doing? Going from zero to ten sounds pretty good.” We both laughed.

Step Five: Make yourself accountable.

In my coaching practice I am constantly amazed at the power of accountability when trying to bring about personal change.

Not too long ago, about ten minutes into a coaching call, I asked my coachee (that’s right, that’s what I call them) about an assignment he agreed to during our previous call. I heard laughter.

“What’s funny?”

“I was wondering how long it was gonna take you to ask me that. You know one thing I don’t like about you?”

More laughter.

“What?” I asked curiously.

“I know you will always hold me accountable to the action steps I set for myself. Sometimes, especially if I didn’t do what I said I’d do, I hope that you will forget, but you never do.”

More laughter.

“Well, my job is to either move you forward or make you miserable.”

Even more laughter.

Find someone to be accountable to. Share your goals with someone. Ask them to check in with you either by phone, text, or e-mail once a week or so. Just knowing that they will be asking you how your progress is going will be enough to trigger your pride (that’s right, pride can be used to our advantage) and keep you on track.

Step Six: Be willing to experiment until you find a rhythm and set of practices that work for you.

How you start out might not be the same as how you end up. You might begin with more focus on scripture meditation and a lesser amount of time on journaling; over time, you might reverse that. Silent prayer might work better for you than verbal prayer. I’m really into writing out my prayers. For others this doesn’t work. A devotional book might help…or not. Try silence, or worship, or meditation and reflection. If Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays no longer work for you, then switch to Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

It might take some time and experimentation for you to discover what works for you, and what results in a meaningful time with God. The first way is not the only way and might not be the best way. Find your way and do it until it doesn’t work for you anymore, and then find another way.

Next week: The Pastor, Baby Steps, and a Deeper Spirituality, Pt. 2

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The above article is an excerpt from my book: Mile Wide, Inch Deep: Experiencing God Beyond the Shallows, Soul Care For Busy Pastors and the Rest of Us. Find your copy here.

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