PrayFaithfully-Istockphoto-kryczka-smallYou can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.

Three T’s for a thriving walk with Jesus are as follows:

1. Time. It takes time to get to know somebody. I know Jesus Christ a whole lot better than I did five years ago or 10 years ago or 20 years ago. It just takes time. When you spend time with Jesus, it doesn’t make you more religious. It makes you more natural. In fact, God doesn’t want you to be religious. He wants you to be you.

You can’t develop an intimate relationship with anybody in a crowd. My wife tells me this all the time. My favorite joy is to greet people on our church’s patio and talk to 100 different people. Meanwhile, Kay would like to get with one person and spend an hour with them. She’s always saying, “You can’t get to know people in a crowd.” You can know about them, but you get to know people by spending time with them. The same is true with God.

2. Talk. Relationships require communication. That’s something else my lovely wife has taught me! Marriages die when one partner stops talking. You just can’t have a relationship without communication. In the same way, you get to know God by talking to Him, by communicating.

If you heard me talk to the Lord on a daily basis, it doesn’t sound like a pastor talking. But I talk to God all the time. Constantly I’m saying things in my mind to God all the time. It’s not even real spiritual. I can be going through a Taco Bell ordering tacos and say, “God, I’m really glad to get this one. I’m hungry!” If you want to lose your joy, just talk to God in solemn, somber tones all the time.

John 16 talks about our communication with Jesus when it says “Until now you’ve not asked for anything in my name.  ask that your joy may be complete.” Much prayer, much joy. Little prayer, little joy. No prayer, no joy. The more continual your communication with God, the deeper your intimacy with Him will be.

It takes time, it takes talk, and it takes ...

3. Trust. Relationships are built on trust. Kay and I have a good relationship because I trust her. We don’t agree on everything, but I trust her implicitly. Relationships are built on trust. When we first got married, we had all these little rules—how you fold the towels, how you push the toothpaste from the bottom up. Do you know how many rules we have in our home now? Zip! The greater the relationship, the fewer the rules you need.

God wants you to learn to trust Him. So He allows all kinds of problems in your life. Then He can demonstrate His reliability. Paul says, “My number one ambition in life is …” to start churches? No. To get rewards in heaven? No. To win people to Christ? No. He says, “My number one purpose in life is to know Christ.” He says this at the end of his life. Doesn’t he know God? Of course he does. But he wants to know Him better. He never stopped hungering for God.

Your hunger for God is going to come out in different ways depending on your personality. Mystical people hunger for God in a mystical way. Practical people hunger for God in a practical way. Loud people hunger for God in a loud way. Emotional people hunger for God in an emotional way. I’m not talking about how you do it. Just hunger for God. Always have as your number one ambition, “I want to know God more.”

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Graveyard

    An Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

    There are eight common patterns to look for.

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

  • The Key to True Power

    The Key to True Power

    Jesus overturned every worldly idea about power when He introduced the concept of servant leadership.

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Do yourself and her a favor. Take the target off your pastor's wife's back.

    Why Pastors' Wives Have a Target on Their Back

    Here are three instances of what we are doing to the wives of God's servants sent to ...

  • The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic.

    5 Qualities to Seek in the Heart of a Leader

    The hope here is that you would reflect on your own leadership and consider your own heart as a ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders