In case you haven’t noticed, there have been a host of books lately focusing on the pastor’s character and spiritual development. Not only that, but many conferences are now featuring the importance of spiritual development of the pastor. One of the most notable books on the subject of the devotional life of the pastor is Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola’s book, Jesus Manifesto.

The Problem with Emphasizing Character

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for the spiritual development of the pastor. Lord knows with all of the recent moral failures in church leadership, we could all do with getting closer to God. In fact I’ve said many times that a pastor should spend a lot of time on his own spiritual development. But this should not be done at the expense of our Lord’s last command, to “go make disciples.”

My fear is that with all of this emphasis on the spiritual life of the pastor, many pastors will take that as their number one priority as a pastor. And if that happens the church will decline even faster than it is declining already.

We need a healthy balance between the spiritual and the practical. I must emphasize Jesus used the word “go” when giving us his last command. He didn’t say “stay with me.”  He said, “now that you have been with me, go” (a loose translation).

I guess it all depends on how you define “spiritual.” In my book Unfreezing Moves, I define it as the point at which most of what a person does is directed toward those who have never given their life to Christ. If that is what is meant by all of the emphasis on spirituality, then I’m all for it. If we are becoming more like Christ then we are becoming more willing to die for those who have not yet accepted the Good News.

I just don’t want anyone to think that spending most of our time becoming like Jesus means that we should hole ourselves up in our offices, reading the Word and praying for ourselves and others, when outside the world is going to hell. We must keep a balance. That’s all I’m saying.

Question: How do you find a balance between your personal walk with Jesus and your ministry to the lost? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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