What is the Key for Leaders to Maintaining Their Personal Spiritual Discipline? – Coaching Session


Private spiritual disciplines… I’m someone…you may not like this… There are some pastors who say that they do a whole set of private spiritual disciplines, have their own devotions, bifurcate all of that, and then they go into sermon preparation mode. I bless every pastor who does it that way. I tend to read, to take in, to pray, to absorb. And when it seems appropriate I like to infuse the disciplines right alongside my sermon preparation, so I mix my spiritual practices with my sermon prep.
Some of them… I told you the solitude thing… Solitude is so important, I tweeted about this couple weeks ago, it got lit up all over the place. I said that, you know, the level of peace that I live with is in direct correlation to how I practice the discipline of solitude. If I can’t get away and slow myself down and go, “Who’s in charge? Who’s son am I? Who’s power am I doing this in?” If I can’t stop for a second and clear my head on that and just go, “Wait Bill, it’s not all on you”. Okay, deep breath, alright. Without solitude I just ramp up to levels of rpm’s that are destructive. And I start thinking, “It’s really all about me”. I mean, “I’ve got to make this happen or it will all come crashing down.” So I’m maniacal on my solitude discipline.

Another thing that’s hard for pastors to do is secret acts of service. We do all public acts of service and it’s not healthy. So I’ve developed a way that I can do secret acts of service that nobody sees, that I do only for God that I never use as sermon illustrations. Because then it’s not secret anymore, it’s not private acts of service. But I strongly encourage you to do some secret acts of service that no one in your church will ever know about. And when you do them you say, you say, “I’m doing this simply because I love God and I’m never going to mention it and I realise I’m doing this for God because I’m not going to use it as a sermon illustration and I’m not going to say ‘then all of you should do it too’.”

So those kinds of things, I mentioned one of my Gary’s secret acts of service and probably blew his heavenly reward! Last night when I said that he and Gloria when they were in Namibia, you know, buy bread and make peanut butter sandwiches so that when they drive through the poor areas, they can distribute sandwiches to little hungry kids. Now had I not brought that to your attention, Gary will keep doing stuff like that because that’s who he is. That’s a secret act of service. That’s not in his job description as the President of the Willow Creek Association. It’s simply in him to do it because it’s a spiritual discipline to do secret acts of service.

I also do some fasting. Thirty days before The Leadership Summit each Summer I go on a very rigorous fast because I realise how important that event is…I want to be in the absolute best spiritual condition I can possibly be in before that event. So I have an array of them but I don’t necessarily break up my devotional time from my sermon prep time.

This weekend I’m speaking on Jesus, the Peacemaker. This is the first kind of big talk that I’m giving on the nature of peacemaking. And I read, I don’t know, 5 books on this and the salient scriptural passages. My heart and head have been so in the peacemaking “game” that that has been soul-filling for me. I didn’t need to be like reading Deuteronomy on the side to check off the devotion box because man I’ve been growing and really having soul-filling stuff happening through my sermon prep. So you do it your way, I’ll do it mine.

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