LEADERSHIP magazine featured a survey of 500 leaders about their devotional life through a list of questions like:
What is the one greatest obstacle you struggle with in your devotional life?
Where do you prefer to have private prayer?
How much time should you spend in prayer?
What goals should you have for your devotions?
What are the signs that you are doing well in your devotional life?
It is interesting to note that most of the respondents indicate that time management, distractions, inconsistency, and lack of discipline are top of the list of obstacles they face in maintaining a meaningful and regular devotional life. Most of them would also prefer to pray for at least thirty minutes daily. The place where they prefer to pray in is the office. Some have specific goals like completing a biblical book while others have no specific goals and simply go with the flow. Many have expressed that a sign that one’s devotional life is doing well is having peace and less anxiety in times of trouble, stress, and hectic demands as well as greater appreciation of significant relationships.
Here is some practical help for maintaining a healthy devotional life on the go (seems like an oxymoron as reflection and contemplation need patience and persistence).
DISCIPLINE WITHOUT DIRECTION SOON BECOMES A DRUDGERY
Establish The Purpose
Discipline without direction soon becomes a drudgery. In sports, if the athlete does not have a target in mind, he will become listless and futile in his training. As spiritual disciplines train us to become like Jesus, we need to have a purpose before us. It could be to develop character, or some virtues or fruit of the Spirit in our lives. A purpose could be seasonal so that we will not become stagnant and bored with just reading the Bible.
Establish The Pattern
Some of us are morning persons while others are night owls. Although Jesus seemed to follow a pattern of seeking His heavenly Father early in the morning, some of us are just not adept to morning devotions. We come alive in the wee hours of the night. Whatever time of the day or night you are wired to be more reflective, it should be regular.
Establish The Place
A noisy, crowded place can never be a place for a devotional experience. Find a quiet place. That was why Jesus always withdrew to a “solitary place.” The “desert – lonely place” seems to be the primary place of strength for Christ. As Mother Teresa once said, “God is a friend of silence.” The missionary-martyr Jim Elliot was right when he said, “I think Satan has made it his business to monopolize on three elements – noise, hurry, and crowds. He is quite aware of the power of silence.”
Establish The Practice
Just like a physician, practice may not make him perfect but will certainly make him a practitioner in his craft. We need to be transformed and changed by the Word and we need to align our lives to God’s will and this requires “downloads and apps.” To be doers and not just hearers means that we practice what we learn and what we preach. Only then will our devotional life become significant and irreplaceable for our journey as a disciple and a leader for God.
This article “The Leader’s Devotional Life” by Michael Tan was first published in the May 2011 issue of Eagles VantagePoint magazine (www.vantagepoint.com.sg). Used with permission.