Reading the books, Leaving Church, Becoming Who You Are, and Bridges to Contemplative Living, has helped me learn several important practices that will guide me in my journey to serve leaders.
One thing I have learned to practice weekly both from our reading and my own life is the benefit and necessity of the Sabbath. I have maintained a Sabbath day for a few years now, but the readings about the benefits of the Sabbath have reinforced the need for me to keep having a Sabbath and to make sure it is a whole Sabbath day with no work.
Maintaining Sabbath days means I set aside a day to sleep in, ready my Bible, spend time with my girlfriend, or anything else that I might enjoy. In Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor shares her new found enjoyment of a full Sabbath day of rest. A Sabbath day for me helps me to keep from getting burnt out, it is a practiced discipline of obeying God’s law, and it reminds me to trust God to help me get things done that need to get done. A day with no agenda, just rest, is beneficial and helpful to me as I move forward with my ministry of serving leaders. Perhaps even more important than a weekly Sabbath is the daily quite time I need to maintain in order to stay in God’s will.
I have been good at maintaining a chunk of quite time with God in the mornings for the past several years. My quite time with God in the morning is crucial to who I have already become, and it will be even more important as I move forward in an effort to serve leaders. In my quite time with God I have time to journal, read my Bible, and pray.
Thomas Merton has helped me see the importance of prayer when he writes, “Meditation or ‘prayer of the heart’ is the active effort we make to keep our hearts open so that we may be enlightened by him [God] and filled with this realization of our true relation to him.” Maintaining my quite time in the morning with God allows me to continue to seek out who God wants me to be, who He wants me to serve, and how He wants me to honor Him with my life. However, God is not the only person I need to spend time with in order to honor my call to ministry.
In order to maintain my integrity as a family man and share the hurts in my heart, I need to be able to share my heart with other men. I need to always have a small group of guys to spend time with or a single guy friend to be an accountability partner. Currently I have three guy friends (this is the “small group” I wrote about earlier) with whom I meet for coffee and Bible study every Tuesday morning. In order to keep myself healthy mentally and emotionally, I need some guy friends with whom I share my feelings and receive guidance in the correct direction. They know who I am, recognize if I am doing things that are not lined up with what a Godly man should do, and they walk with me on the path to getting right again. This can also be done with the help of an accountability partner, which has been my friend Rod. We are accountability partners relating to our sexual purity to make sure we are making good decisions with what our eyes land on, what our thoughts think about, and what actions we take. Having a group of guys to spend time with or an accountability partner will be a crucial practice for me to have going forward in order to honor my call to be a Godly man who serves other leaders.
As I wrap up my call to ministry to serve leaders, I find Jeff’s statement in class to be very relevant about what my call is, what pitfalls I might encounter along the way, and the practices I need to have, Jeff declared, “Spiritual formation is not about what you do specifically, but how are we getting to understand God more deeply and seeking to live more clearly for His honor and the world’s benefit.” Through my spiritual practices I hope I can learn more of who I am so that I too may “seek to live more clearly for His honor” by serving leaders.
 Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2006), 131-142.
 Thomas Merton, “Contemplative Prayer” quoted in Jonathan Montaldo and Robert G. Toth, Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton (Notre Dame, IN: Ava Maria Press, 2006), 34.
 Jeff Harrington, “Ministry Discernment and Spiritual Formation 397A” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, CA February 24, 2011)