Recently, we asked women this question, “What qualities and characteristics should healthy and effective ministry wives cultivate into their lives? “ We polled the results by providing a list of 12 words and having them rank each in order of significance. The results were insightful.
At the top of the list were two features: godly character and personal spiritual vitality. This was a fascinating result because you actually cannot have one without the other.
Over the next few weeks we will post blogs on the most highly recommended features ministry wives can pursue.
Today, we begin with personal spiritual vitality. What exactly does it mean? Simply put, it is the quality of possessing a living faith.
Spiritual vitality is a vibrant, authentic relationship with Christ, the Word of God and His church. It is transforming and life giving. In fact, the evidence of our genuine spirit is that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives. It is evidence that we desire His presence and transforming work, and we want others to know the same.
Spiritual vitality is not found in formulaic faith. It is found in the pursuit of Christ, the truth of the Word of God, the practice of personal prayer and a healthy contributing relationship to His bride—the Church.
It doesn’t matter if you are just learning to hear the voice of God or are new to developing spiritual rhythms as a Christian. You may have only known Christ for a few years or have 60 years of cultivated relationship with Him. No matter the amount of time, we should spend time developing our spiritual relationships with our Creator as it says in Scripture.
“I am vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
There will be times where we will struggle to know and enjoy rich personal spiritual intimacy with Jesus, His Word and the Church. Our struggles could stem from a dry season, or spiritual struggle. However, left unattended, neglect, rebellion and apathy can crush the one relationship that gives us life.
Most of us could agree our journey with personal spiritual vitality has not always come easily or remained consistent. There have been many peaks and valleys in the reality of my daily habits and practical pursuit of His intimacy. Yet I have tasted and seen His presence, His truth in His Word and the power of prayer enough to LONG for it and KNOW it is breath, life, hope and security for my soul.
I read a nugget of wisdom from C.S. Lewis that speaks further into this situation.
“A non-intrusive religion frequently becomes a substitute for the development of a dynamic relationship with a personal God.”
He’s saying some don’t experience a vibrant personal spiritual life because they have never known true salvation. They have, as C.S. Lewis reminds us, found a substitute for vitality in “a non-intrusive religion.” Our churches are full of people who have chosen this substitute. Quite honestly, this can happen to anyone—even those in ministry ranks.
In 2 Peter, the Bible says although God gives us everything required for life and godliness, we should make efforts to growth and be fruitful.
“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you” (2 Peter 1:3-11).
Why should spiritual leaders cultivate their spiritual vitality? Here are four reasons:
1. Our spiritual vitality qualifies us.
Simply put, we are not fit to be ministry wives without spiritual vitality. Yes, we are on different spectrums of depth, maturity, practice or passions. Yes, we are all works in progress, but there should be a basic understanding, desire for and experience of personal spiritual vitality.
It is a sign of genuine conversion and a primary source of development into mature, fruit bearing disciples which is the most significant qualifying feature of spiritual leadership.
We have the very example of Jesus from Luke 6:12.
“During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.”
Jesus put His personal spiritual dynamic on display as He is our living example. He clearly modeled His dependency, unity and intimacy with the Father.
2. Our spiritual vitality nourishes us.
Let’s compare spiritual food to physical food.
“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
God is teaching us that the spiritual aspect of our lives requires feeding and maintenance just as surely as the physical. We understand the effect of starvation or malnutrition on our bodies. We should understand those same effects influence our souls. When we feed our souls with His truth, we grow, bear health and become more fruitful.
3. Our spiritual vitality is our survival.
Ministry life is full of potholes, landmines and lots of hard work. It will be tiring, depleting and draining. Gospel work is grueling at times. We face conflict, obstacles and opposition. Our faith may grow stale, our hopes may be dashed and our hearts left weary.
None of us will escape real life on our sin cursed planet. Our marriages may struggle and our finances will sometimes be too tight for comfort. Our children may face great temptations, and our families will stray. Death will come too soon; illnesses will rob us of health and those we love.
We will need an anchor for our souls—one that is sure and steadfast. We will need a light to shine in our darknesses. We will need a joy that comes in the morning after a long night of despair. We will need truth to confront the lies thrown at us.
Empty religion will not sustain us, only the presence, person and power of Jesus will.
The roots that grow from an “authentic relationship with Christ, the Word of God and His Church” will stabilize your life and faith in the midst of a variety of storms.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
4. Our spiritual vitality is our ultimate influence on others.
We live and work in the spiritual realm. It’s pretty simple. We are spiritual leaders, but we cannot lead without having authentic personal spiritual realities.
Recently, I read a blog written by Bob Hamp called Six Characteristics of Spiritual Leader. His number one feature of a spiritual leader was this:
“They lead others into their own encounters with God. One of the most effective things about Jesus’ lifestyle was that He didn’t switch into another mode to introduce His disciples to the reality of God.”
Just as Jesus lead from His reality, we can only lead people to places we have gone. Our spiritual lives effect people around us. How I encounter God will have a direct impact on others, because any real, lasting fruit in my life comes as a result of being connected to the vine.
Run to Him. He wants to breath life into your soul.
Published August 21, 2017