The Priority of Time with Jesus

by Impact Church

“… And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

While reading a blog about the priorities of ministry work this week, I was struck with the simple idea that what is good for the shepherd is good for the sheep.

That’s not a new concept for Impact Church; we have faithfully declared for years that every member should be and indeed is a minister. It’s not just our pastors who we believe are called to “passionately serve God and His people.” That is the mission of the church as a whole.

You’ve probably heard the declaration that God has no grandchildren, only children. He deals with each one of us as a loving Father who wants what is best for us. He doesn’t play favorites, but never forget that He is sovereign. He doesn’t make mistakes; His callings are sure. He gives different abilities and gifts, but what He wants is undistracted devotion.

The ministry blog stated that the priorities of ministry leaders should be prayer, people and paperwork, in that order. I wholeheartedly agree and would like to embellish that thought and expand it to all of us as followers of Christ.

(1) PRAYER … Let’s call it our devotional life: our individual, personal, daily walk with the Lord. Certain disciplines of the faith like prayer, Bible study and worship are so crucial to our spiritual health that we dare not live without them. While nobody would deny their importance, many in the church world today would question their priority above serving the needs of people. After all, ministry is all about people, right?

Well, even the Master Himself knew that meeting the surface needs of lost humanity — filling their stomachs, healing their hurts — would accomplish little if their souls were still craving an encounter with their Creator. That’s why Jesus, God in mortal flesh, never lost sight of His intimate relationship with His Father. Often in the midnight hours of Scripture, we find the Messiah making His way to a mountain to spend some time alone with God.

Indeed, God seems more interested in preparing the messenger than the message. “But I don’t have a good testimony,” some say. “I’m not ready to be used by God to lead others to the Lord.” In defending his ministry in 2 Corinthians 3, Paul declared that believers were a living epistle — the handiwork of the Spirit of God. You and I, dear Christian, are not just carriers of the Gospel,…we ARE the “good news” that the living Christ can transform a life from the inside out!

When the Sanhedrin confronted Peter and John over their preaching in Acts 4, they didn’t talk about their eloquence or their mastery of the Law. They were astonished at their boldness and power, and they knew that came only from time spent with Jesus before His ascension and the Holy Spirit since the Day of Pentecost.

Before we preach and teach, before we lead and disciple people, we must adopt a Mary mindset and sit at the feet of Jesus. Not only will people know when we’ve spent time with the Master; they’ll know when we haven’t. An empty vessel has nothing to give.

And that’s not just academic time in the Word, but time spent with the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

(2) PEOPLE … After we have devoted ourselves to one-on-one time with God, then and only then will we have something to truly offer the people within our influence.

When Jesus ordained His disciples in Mark 3:14-15, His call was “that they should be with Him” first. Only then could He “send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.”

Many a “Simon the sorcerer” wants to be the instrument that wields the power of God (Acts 8), but without the intimacy that worships and praises God. Beware of the self-serving desire for a platform or a microphone when what we may really need is a basin and a towel.

(3) PAPERWORK … The mundane aspects of ministry must be done at some point and by someone, but be careful to keep the main thing the main thing. Translation: Priorities #1 and #2 are both more important than #3.

But administrative duties, emails, texts, social media posts, blogging and computer time, to name a few, can be major time consumers if we’re not careful, can’t they? Maybe those who are proficient and “detail-oriented” in these areas could offer to free up time for pastors by shouldering some of the load.

In conclusion, few of us would argue with these priorities for our shepherds. How then could they be less applicable for the flock? Let’s make sure we are spending time at Jesus’ feet before going into Martha mode and striving to serve. Natural talent and a can-do attitude are no substitute for supernatural anointing. And that can come only from private time with Jesus. We need that lifeline, and the people whom we serve need us to have it.