Are you running on empty as a servant of God?
Do you feel the beginning stages of burnout creeping in on the edges of your ministry?
Many of us in Christian ministry forget that service to God is not the most important thing. To be sure, our sincere service honors God and brings men and women into contact with divine power that transforms lives, but in itself, it is not the most important aspect of our lives.
Maybe that shocks you.
Before you relegate this to junk mail, consider what Jesus said when asked what is the greatest commandment. He replied in Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
These verses are the basis of my statement.
Service is vitally important and we will be engaged in it if we are true followers of Jesus, but that is secondary. First we must never forget that the most important thing is to love God with all our heart and soul and mind.
The love Jesus is speaking of here indicates our submission and obedience to Him and His commands.
Such obedience opens the door to fellowship and communion with God without which we cannot effectively serve Him. Our ministry is so important to us that frequently we neglect fellowship with God.
You have been there just as I have.
My ministry is so urgent at the time that fellowship with God in prayer and meditation in the Word is postponed to a more convenient hour.
The urgency of our tasks mount, and neglect in meeting God becomes easier and more frequent.
The consequence is that one day we wake up to discover how powerless we are, how empty we have become, how busy we are yet how little has been accomplished. We’ve succumbed to the urgent and neglected the one thing God wants more than anything else and that is our fellowship with Him.
Consider why fellowship is so important to keep us from running on empty.
1. It brings us into a close and intimate relationship with God who delights in our praise, our thanksgiving, our dependence upon Him.
2. It brings us into contact with the power we need for service and the battle with the enemy of our souls.
3. It reveals to us God’s will and direction. We don’t know God’s will because we haven’t taken time to consult with Him on His plan.
4. It prepares us to do battle with a powerful enemy who constantly seeks to side-track us and neutralize our service.
What are the losses when we rush out to serve without having spent time studying His Word and communing with God in worship and prayer? They are very obvious:
1. We lack power to overcome the enemy because we are depending on our own strength and skills.
2. We easily become discouraged because the results are not what we anticipated.
3. We sometimes end up thinking God’s promises probably don’t apply to this particular situation. That’s Satan’s goal. Is to get our eyes off God.
When faced with a spiritual condition like this, I eventually understand my problem is very simple. I’m running on empty.
When the gas tank hits empty and the dash board light starts flashing, you know you must get to a gas station and fill up as soon as possible. I once ignored the obvious and ended up being stranded in an isolated area.
Years ago when I served in Japan, this was vividly impressed on me.
My jeep station wagon tailgate was a perfect platform for street meetings.
One day after several hours of using the PA system we packed up to return home, but the battery was dead! If you don’t take time to replenish your spiritual batteries, you end up the same way—frustrated, annoyed, upset, and powerless.
Many of us have experienced the sad condition of trying to serve on “empty.” Without the intake of spiritual energy through obedience and fellowship with God, we foolishly go forth in the power of the flesh and fall flat on our faces.
Dear busy Christian worker, it is time to meet the Lord, to be refreshed by His Word, to learn the secret of listening for His voice, and being filled with the awe of the Holy Spirit that only comes from obedience to His Word and time in His presence.
Anthony Bollback was born into a Christian home that always entertained missionaries. He received Christ at age 16 after a near-drowning incident at a summer youth conference. Beginning his missionary career in China, he and his wife Evelyn, were forced to evacuate when the Communists took over, and three years later began serving in Japan for five years. The remainder of his 24 years in Asia was spent in Hong Kong where he planted and directed 10 chapels and schools with 10,000 students. He served as Field Chairman of the China-Hong Kong Field of The Christian and Missionary Alliance for four years. Unexpectedly, God changed his direction and sent him to Honolulu for a most effective ministry as pastor of Kapahulu Bible Church. He retired from active ministry after serving as District Superintendent of the Mid-America District C&MA for 9 very productive years.
Following retirement in Florida, he began an active writing career and the publishing of a very popular series of 6 books based on his experiences in China for children entitled Jack and Jenny Mystery Series. His most popular adult books based on the persecution of the church in China are the two-book series entitled The Persecuted Church in China: Red Runs the River, Vol. 1 and Exiles of Hope, Vol. 2.
He continues a very active ministry of writing and speaking that includes a monthly e-letter called China Clippings. In addition he serves on the Church Board and is an Elder in the church.