One of the essential ways for me to cultivate my 2017 guiding word, wellness, is to work on my personal spiritual practices so all can truly be well with my soul.
Personal spiritual practices are so important in ministry. I am still fairly new at ministry, with a year under my belt at this current location, but one of the things that has really been stressed to me by older, wiser leaders in the faith is that you have to take care of your own faith first. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and if you’re not filled up with faith, you have nothing to give to those you minister to.
When it comes to personal spiritual practices, I am admittedly uneven. Personal prayer is my strongest, most cultivated of these practices. I pray all the time. However, two practices I really need to work on being more consistent in this year are regular worship attendance, and daily Bible reading.
Church attendance is hard because I’m at church every Sunday, but since our children’s and youth ministry programs have grown over the course of the past year, I’m currently teaching one Sunday school class at each service. My goal by Easter is to recruit enough volunteers to get myself off the rotation, both so I can be available for emergencies and so I can attend one worship service myself.
But this post is to specifically focus on the Bible reading part of my personal spiritual practices. If I’m teaching children and youth the Word, I believe it’s imperative for me to be immersed in the Word myself.
I am working through a one-year YouVersion Bible plan, Psalms & Proverbs, through the awesome phone Bible app. I’ve done many devotionals and other studies through the YouVersion app before, but am admittedly better at the short-term studies: again, that inconsistency! One thing I really like about YouVersion’s plans is the “catch me up” button. A little grace so I don’t feel discouraged! I definitely feel it’s OK to miss a day or two here and there. My goal is progress, not perfection, and I know God has abundant grace for me and for all.
In addition to this Psalms & Proverbs reading plan, I am also working through Timothy and Kathy Keller’s one-year devotional book on the Psalms, The Songs of Jesus.
Now that I’m starting to get my Psalms rhythm down slightly better, I am going to introduce a daily New Testament reading plan as well as an additional part of my spiritual practices. This is part of the assignments for a children’s ministry discipleship program I am a part of, which I am very excited about. Once I get that into a regular rhythm, I will add in a weekly series on that as well.
Since I started this series back in January, I am currently on day 19, but I’ll start with my notes from earlier for the purpose of this series. Once I have finished Psalms I’ll shift over to Proverbs Sundays. This plan reads the Psalms twice and Proverbs twelve times.
In Psalm 1, verse 6 really jumped out at me. It reads, “The Lord is intimately acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is destroyed.” (CEB) What a beautiful phrase, intimately acquainted! I love thinking about the fact that my God, powerful enough to create the whole world, still has that beautiful, personal intimacy with me, his creation! What a lovely thought! God knows me so well: intimately. Sometimes God feels so big and nebulous and far-off, so it’s so wonderful to have that reminder.
I hope you are able to carry the knowledge that you are created by a gGod who loves you, sustains you, and is so, so intimately acquainted with you today. I know it will be what I attempt to carry in my heart as I pour out to my kiddos this morning!