How to arrange your days - a quote from 'Soul Keeping'

John Ortberg was experiencing frustration at work.  He went to Dallas Willard for some advice. I think the advice applies to all of us, whether we are pastors or not because all of us are influencing people as Christians - people at church, family, friends, neighbours etc.

I asked him what I needed to do to help our church experience greater levels of spiritual growth.

Long pause . . . "You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God." 

"No," I corrected him.  "I wasn't asking about me.  I was asking about other people.  I was wondering what I need to make the church do.  I was thinking about a book everyone should read, or a program everyone should go through, or a prayer system everyone should commit to."

"Yes, Brother John," he said with great patience and care.  "I know you were thinking of these things.  But that's not what they need most.  The main thing you will give your congregation - just like the main thing you will give God - is the person you become.  If your soul is unhealthly, you can't help anybody.  You don't send a doctor with pneumonia to care for patients with immune disorders.  You, and nobody else, are responsible for the well-being of your own soul."

"I'm trying," I said.  "I learned long ago about the importance of having a quiet time when I read the Bible and do daily devotions; I do my best to start each day that way."

"I didn't say anything about having a quiet time" he gently corrected again.  "People in churches - including pastors - have been crushed with guilt over their failure at having a regular quiet time or daily devotions.  And then, even when they do, they find it doesn not actually lead to a healthy soul.  Your problem is not the first fifteen minutes of the day.  It's the next twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes.  You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God."

"But how can I have total contentment, joy, and confidence?" I responded.  "My work isn't going nearly well enough.  Lots of people are not happy with me.  I am inadequate as a pastor, husband, and father.  Every week I carry the burden of delivering a sermon and knowing I'll have to feel the pain if it doesn't go well."

"I didn't say you should experience total contentment, joy, and confidence in the remarkable adequacy of your competence or the amazingly successful circumstances of your life.  It's total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday experience of God.  This alone is what makes a soul healthy.  This is not your wife's job.  It's not your elder's job.  It's not your children's job.  It's not your friend's job.  It's your job."

(p88f of Soul Keeping by John Ortberg)

photo credit: stargardener via photopin cc


David Wanstall, 28/12/2014