worship

This is the 1st of a 4 part series on Habits for Spiritually Healthy Pastors.

I have quite a few habits I observe every day. For example, after dinner each night, I find a sweet treat, usually Oreos and milk, to finish dinner.

In the mornings, I make a pot of coffee and drink at least a cup each day. Also, in the mornings, I make time to read the Bible and pray. 

You have habits as well. Habits (good or bad) form who we are. Have you considered what your habits say about you?

Someone once said, “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” 

We’re the product of our regular habits. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg suggests that habits have a cycle of routine, habit, and reward. 

In other words, we do out of habit, because we experience a benefit or reward from it. Our habits say a lot about us. So, what do your worship habits say about you?

Last fall, I preached a sermon series entitled “Habits of Healthy Church Members.” The series highlighted habits that reflect our church mission.

At Wilkesboro Baptist, our mission is to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus by worshiping, learning, serving, and replicating. We noted three habits for each step in our church’s mission. 

In today’s article, I’m recommending three worship habits for spiritually healthy pastors. 

HABIT #1—HUMBLY PREPARE FOR WORSHIP.

One of my fellow pastors refers to the “unrelenting tyranny of the Sunday” regarding the regularity of sermon preparation and delivery.

If you’re anything like me, you have study and preparation routines throughout the week to make sure you’re ready for each Sunday.

It’s all too easy, however, to get so caught up in the reading, writing, and sermon preparation that I neglect prayer and personal application.

If you want to be spiritually healthy as a pastor, remember your need to prepare humbly. Build prayer and confession time into your office schedule and sermon preparation.

If God doesn’t draw hearts, there won’t be any lasting fruit, regardless of your skill, preparation, giftedness, and delivery.

HABIT #2—INTENTIONALLY ENGAGE IN WORSHIP. 

I know, you’re reading this and thinking, “How can I be more engaged? I’m preaching.” Well, what about the other aspects of worship? 

Are you singing with the congregation? Are you listening to the other portions of the service? Are you engaged by focusing on God, or distracted trying to remember the points of your sermon? 

Pastor, you’re the lead worshiper in your church. If you don’t sing, engage, and connect with the worship aspects in your services, how can you expect your congregation to participate? 

Finish sermon preparation before entering your sanctuary or worship center. Be engaged as you worship. Worship isn’t merely an activity to attend; it’s an attitude to reflect. 

You and your congregation will benefit greatly. More importantly, you’ll honor God with your worshipful engagement.

HABIT #3—GIVE GENEROUSLY AS WORSHIP. 

I have no idea how many pastors give a tithe or more than a tithe. But I know and believe this: pastors are the leaders in their congregations. 

If they’re not generous, how can they ask for generosity of others? Before you balk and say, “But you don’t know how much I make. It’s barely enough to make it each week,” stop and ask yourself: 

“Has God ever failed to meet my need?” In my life, the answer is a resounding, “No.” 

Trust God and give generously. He’ll provide. Trust God and give forgetfully. It only matters to God what you give. Don’t focus on it, and certainly don’t broadcast it.

Giving generously will remind you you’re part of the congregation you serve. It’ll create an attitude of investment and healthy ownership in your church community. It’ll also make you more like Christ. 

Simple habits, right? Maybe simple, but profound in their influence. 

In the next several months, I’ll post about the healthy habits of pastors in their learning, serving, and replicating. I know these aren’t exhaustive; they’re basic. 

But basic habits lived out regularly develop us into growing and fruitful followers of Jesus. What are some other worship habits we should adopt? I’d love to hear from you. 

Originally posted here at LifeWay Facts and Trends.

Significant themes run as threads through the entirety of Scripture (God’s Sovereignty and holiness, mankind’s sin, redemption, grace, forgiveness, and numerous others). One important biblical theme is judgment. Judgment is necessary because of human sin. Had sin not entered the world, neither would judgment. And the reality is that we all deserve judgment because we are sinners who have rejected God’s right to rule over us. But have you ever considered God’s judgment as an act of grace?

God does not judge to be mean. God does not judge to destroy. God judges and chastises to reveal his holiness, our sinfulness, and drive us to repentance. In the book of Judges, the people of Israel were supposed to conquer and inherit the land of Canaan. Yet the people of Israel did not conquer all the land. Many nations and their Idolatry remained. Israel became tainted in their worship because they adopted the gods of the land. They broke the first two of the ten commandments by not worshiping Yahweh alone and worshiping idols instead.

So, in response to Israel’s idolatry and sin, God left the nations in the land. Scripture records that God left the nations in Canaan for two reasons. First, God left them to test Israel’s faithfulness (2:22-23). Second, God left them to teach the people of Israel how to war and engage in battle (3:1-2). God allowed the nations to stay in Canaan because his chosen people did not obey him in conquering the land. In other words, God let Israel face the consequences of her own sinful choices. Part of God’s judgment on Israel during the period of the Judges was to let her experience the difficulty of her own sinful choices. Yet, and this is striking, God sovereignly purposed two important reasons for allowing the idolatrous nations to stay in Canaan. God was actively working within and in spite of Israel’s sins. He offered gracious purposes in the midst of his judgments.

The cycle prevalent throughout the book of Judges also reveals God’s grace as a part of his judgement. Israel’s cycle was: sin cycle

While God allowed Israel to sin and face judgment, he responded graciously when they cried out in repentance. He sent a judge to rescue them. God is no different today. In his sovereignty, he is not intimidated by our free will and our choices to sin. In his holiness, he will chastise and judge our sin. In his grace, he will hear us when we cry out in repentance. And he will and ultimately has provided us deliverance from our sin. In the person of his Son Jesus Christ, God both judged our sin and rescued us. Even his judgments are gracious. And that my fellow believers should inspire love and worship for our great and gracious God.