I once heard a sermon titled, "The Devil Is in the Details." Recently, I learned that saying is actually derived from an exact opposite quote, "God is in the details."
This more positive statement is attributed most often to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German-born architect. But the quotation didn't originate with him; it goes back more than a thousand years.
I believe it's especially significant that the phrase comes from the architectural community. This group understands that their ability to receive divine assistance with their work is enhanced by the more strategic, focused and committed they are. The level of creativity and craftsmanship invested in their work often makes the finished product breathtaking. Think about the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. It's easy to understand the full meaning of this great architectural proverb.
It's gratifying to know that God wants to be with me in the details of my ministry as well. Sometimes it seems like "the devil" has been in my inbox for years. No matter how many times I rebuke and send him away, the next week he shows up again.
As a retired army colonel who worked for the Pentagon, I learned the protocols and nuances of administration. Nonetheless, I must admit that sometimes I haven't had everything in balance and have let the wrong thing become the center of my attention.
To be truly effective leaders of the modern church, we must be able to keep first things first. The center of a pastor's life should be intimacy with God the Father, a wholesome family life and personal peace coming from rest and focus. Out of this center we receive spiritual resources to fulfill our re-sponsibilities as undershepherds in God's house.
Staying sharp, alert and using the best business and natural leadership skills we can muster will allow us to do great work. Ecclesiastes 10 warns us against three levels of mismanagement: the wrong selection of goals or bad spiritual decisions (Ecc. 10:2); the misplacement of people (Ecc. 10:6, 7); and doing strenuous work without giving proper maintenance to our bodies, our equipment, our staff or our congrega-tions (Ecc. 10:10). I recently survived stage four prostate cancer. Like my mentor, Bishop Harry Jackson, I have "been resurrected" and healed by the grace of God. To the glory of God, during my protracted illness, my congregation has continued to grow in love for God, in courageous witness and in vision.
We are about to move into a 3,500-seat sanctuary this year. Having specific practices in place before, during and after this time was essen-tial to managing the details of life and ministry.
Use these suggestions thinking through what works for your context:
- Make a to-do list at the beginning of the week and complete the easiest task first to increase the likelihood of accomplishing everything on the list by the week's end.
- Sort and respond to emails only once a day at the beginning or end. Checking emails all day will get in the way of you completing tasks.
- Determine a specified time every day to take and return calls to give you more uninterrupted time to complete tasks.
- Reserve one day every week for your "alone time" with God to ensure you are hearing from Him and not becoming a victim of the day-to-day grind.
- Set up two email accounts: one for professional staff, special friends and your mentor; and one general account for everyone else. Strate-gic filters will help you quickly sort through the junk mail.
Bishop EUGENE REEVES is founder of New Life Anointed Ministries International, Inc., where he serves as the senior pastor. He provides a spiritual covering, mentoring and training for more than 200 churches and pastors around the globe and currently serves as the second presiding bishop for the International Communion of Evangelical Churches (ICEC).
The Pastor's Guide to Leading & Living by O.S. Hawkins gives church leaders tips on topics such as finances; politics and the pulpit; family life; resolving conflict; church admini-stration; pastoral care and more. Each chapter has Scripture references and a place for notes.
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