I watched one of The Nines’ videos, one by Nancy Beach who is on staff at Willow Creek. The one thing she chose to share was, “Guard your heart.”
Nancy says her heart is grieved with the number of conversations that she’s had with people from other churches who work on staff with a lead pastor who is not exemplary in Christlikeness. And so she poses the question, “As people get closer to me, do they discover more or less of Christlikeness?”
Nancy’s key verse in pointing us toward Christlikeness is Proverbs 4.23 …
Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.
Nancy gives these three ways to “guard your heart”:
- Spiritual practices: what practices am I going to intentionally engage in at this season of life/ministry?
- Safe relationships: who do I have in my life that I can share openly with?
- Stretching experiences: what ministry experience can I expose myself to that will jump start my spiritual life?
This is really a good follow-up to the Provisional Member Retreat that Randy and I just attended (and he reflected on here). Related to the concept of being and doing, Nancy says that if one does not concentrate on the being that it will eventually become evident. Perhaps you can cover that up from a distance, but as people get close to you, it will be evident.
Focusing on being, and guarding your heart, is a challenge in a world that values “productivity,” seeing a product produced. We’re better at measuring effectiveness by what we “see” people “doing.” In ministry (and in all of our lives) it is what you don’t see that is most important. It is the time spent with God in the secret place. That is where he molds and makes us.
It’s in the secret place where we are filled with the Holy Spirit and receive God’s empowerment for ministry. That is where we receive his guidance so that we are not just “busy” but have focus. That is where we discover what God is doing and he invites us to be a part of it, so that we are not out there doing our own thing and assuming God will bless it. This is where we are sure we are not just “doing things right” (management), but “doing the right things” (leadership).
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6.6)