As young church leaders, we are constantly learning how to spend our time. Being relatively new at “ministry life,” you probably wrestle with what you should or should not be doing.

Most of us invest considerable energy and resources into organizing our schedules, formulating goals, structuring ministries, and we all probably have more on our plate than we know what to do with.

So with so much going on, we naturally want to know… Where should we start? If we could have that wise older mentor come alongside of us, where would he or she say to begin? Let’s take a look.

  1. Begin with the heart in mind. 

Stephen Covey is an amazing author, but in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective people, he got it wrong when he said to “begin with the end in mind.” What he should have said was, begin with the heart in mind. In all seriousness, we often have our minds so focussed upon our goals, that we neglect to acknowledge what’s going on inside of us.  No matter how noble the goal might seem, when it’s not flowing from a pure heart, it will eventually become corrupt.

King Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, knew this truth better than anyone. He writes…

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Everything. Not just the contents of the sermon you wrote for Sunday.

Everything. Not just the wise words you hope to speak to the troubled teen in your youth group.

Everything. Everything you say to your spouse. Everything you spend your time dreaming and planning for. Everything you do flows from you heart. It’s the source. It’s what gives everything else life, vitality, and purpose.

Yet we spend so little time talking about it. So little time investing into it. The heart has the potential to corrupt every good thing we’ll ever do, but is the one thing we give the least attention to. So we must begin with the heart in mind.

2.  Pursue God’s heart more than your own. 

Ministry is exciting! Whether you’re in a pastoral position or just volunteering, being used by God to accomplish His mission is pretty amazing.  As you serve God in any capacity, your heart will begin to dream and be pulled in a number of directions.

God can and does use our heart to speak to us. He created us as emotional beings, and it’s one way he talks to us. (For more information on this check out Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality) However, it’s not always easy to distinguish what emotions God is placing within us and what is a result of our own fleshly desires.

I’d LOVE to say that every dream and emotional nudging I feel is from the Lord. That would sure make things easier. But that would be a lie. Sometimes, what I feel my heart is saying is the opposite of what God wants for me.

So… what’s the solution?

Pursue God’s heart more than your own. Make it your heart’s policy to want what Jesus wants.

This concept really boils down to living a surrendered life. Submitting our heart to the Lordship of Christ.

When submission becomes a daily endeavor, we train our hearts to want what Jesus wants. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to distinguish if you are pursing God’s heart more than your own.

  • Can I honestly say, I want what Jesus wants MORE than what I want?
  • Am I asking Jesus what He wants in this situation?
  • Before making a decision,  have I committed to obeying regardless?
  • When was the last time God told me no? (If you can’t remember… pause, evaluate your surrender to Him, and seek out Godly people to help you become more self aware in how God might be calling you to change.)
  • When was the last time God told me no and I joyfully obeyed? (This shows us the condition of our heart. Obedience is great, but having a heart like God means we LOVE what He loves. It means we find great joy and satisfaction in Him knowing better than us. Our heart should become grateful as we view Him as our rescuer and not our disciplinarian.) 

3. Wake up and die. 

Here is the simplest way to guarantee you’ll start off right in ministry and pursue God’s heart daily.

Wake up, die to yourself, and hand over the reigns of your life to Jesus. Dead people can’t make wrong decisions. 

Jesus made dying to yourself a necessity in following Him. Thus, this is a crucial step in serving Him.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

And the Apostle Paul shows us it’s possible.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

So each morning, we have this choice. It will indicate how we spend our time, what we invest in, and the fruit that will result from it. The choice is… Will we go to the gallows? Will we willingly wake up, die to ourselves, and pursue God’s heart like never before? If you decide death is the best option, I promise you’ll find the life you never dreamed possible.

What ABOUT YOU?

What would you add to the list? What are you learning about spending your time, investing it wisely, and pursing God’s heart?

Join the conversation!