Have you ever wondered how your pastor spends his alone time? Or what he does away from church?
I know I have.
In fact, I remember as a kid, thinking the pastor was like the Wizard of Oz – a man of big presence and mystery, yet shielded behind the curtain of Monday thru Saturday.
But as I grew older, and watched my dad make the transition from road warrior to senior pastor, I learned firsthand the importance of not only making time for God, but being a wise steward of that time.
And now, as a bivocational minister, I’m living what I learned, rediscovering the value of quiet time in an entirely new light.
Now, I know when we talk quiet time, it’s easy to get squeamish. After all, it’s not easy making room for it with so much going on in life.
But it’s not like pastors are any exception.
‘Cause with pastors, quiet time can get lost in the shuffle rather easily, whether in tedious logistics…like studying and writing out sermons, orchestrating service flows, making phone calls, responding to e-mails, staff meetings…or the personal items like counseling sessions, house church, attending important social engagements, hospital visits, etc.
And keep in mind, we’re not even talking about other full-time jobs, academic loads or family commitments.
But maybe you’re reading this wondering what the heck is real “quiet time” anyway?
Well, at its core, quiet time is time intentionally set aside for intimate communion with God, whether through prayer, intercession, reflection, reading the Word…or a combo platter of two or more.
So quiet time is basically premeditated meditation.
However, for ministers and church leaders, quiet time can be a slightly more complicated issue.
For instance, many pastors prep multiple messages on a weekly basis, spending many hours submerged in Scriptures, commentaries, concordances, databases, journal articles, etc.
Is it okay, then, for them to occasionally use prep time as quiet time?”
Well, the quick, smart-aleck answer is: Of course!
‘Cause if you think about it, prep time is literally applied quiet time…
…yet, with one notable caveat: Prep time is seeking God with an agenda, quiet time is seeking God for the agenda.
True, both can be purposeful…and planned out in advance.
However, with “quiet time”, we’re talkin’ about a holy hangout we get to have with the living God, completely free of technical, relational or work-related distractions.
Pretty amazing, eh?
Yet, when we dig a little deeper, we find “quiet time” to not only be a conversation with God, but also a gateway to higher level understanding concerning the ways of God. Thus, if we’re truly thirsty to see our relationship with God advance, then spending yielded time with Him is not an option.
And hear me, guys, I know what it’s like to wrestle with a desire to spend quality time with God, especially on days when I have a lot on my plate or when I’m feeling burnt out.
Yet, whenever I find myself wrestling with the decision to spend quiet time with God, I ask myself:
- Have I committed this day to the Lord?
- Have I expressed praise and thanksgiving to God today?
- Have I spent agenda-free time with God today?
- Have I opened my heart to give and receive from the Lord today?
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, then chances are, I need to pause and recalibrate through quiet time. And hey, if you run down the checklist, but are still struggling, simply ask God to fill you up with a deeper desire to know Him more. It won’t take long before He pours into you with supernatural hunger.
So coming back to the initial question: is it okay for ministers to use prep time as quiet time?
But think about it: wouldn’t it be better for quiet time to lead into prep time?
Shouldn’t prep time flow out of quiet time, given the point of either is seeking God first and foremost above content?
‘Cause bottom line: We don’t prep to have quiet time, but have quiet time so what we do flows out of it.
Matthew 6:33 confirms this:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)
In other words, when we lay down our agenda and seek the Lord first, we’ll find He, in turn, will inspire the content for the prep. Thus, quiet time doesn’t have to hinge on our productivity or intellectual efficiency. Rather, we can rest in knowing God will be faithful to provide the timely word or revelation we’re looking for. All we have to do is stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3:20).
Stay tuned next time, when we’ll conclude this mini-series by talking about how ministers can tangibly model quiet time and how they can keep it from becoming a “grey area” in the church.