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, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

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.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • Don't bring your sermons in for a crash landing.

    4 Terrible Ways to Close a Sermon

    People need an opportunity to respond to the Word of God.

  • These seven responses can get you on the right track.

    Responding Like Jesus When Your Church Kicks You Out

    It's a pain that many in the ministry have felt at least once and maybe more.

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