I'm not much of one for New Year's resolutions. Not because I can't keep them; I tend to think I have pretty decent resolve when it comes to committing to change myself for the better. Maybe it's the way lots of folks poke fun at the lack of resolve of so many who make resolutions? (The way the gyms are packed for the first three weeks of the new year, and then attendance declines sharply thereafter...?) I don't know. Maybe I'm just too lazy to make resolutions. Ha! But all that changed this morning.
I sat down to check my e-mail and was convicted by one of the messages I received. And no, it wasn't one of those ridiculous spams with animated doves, floating bouquets, and spinning crosses, with a sweet inspirational message and then a tagline at the end: "if you love Jesus, you'll pass this on to three hundred of your closest friends, 'cause if you don't, you must be ashamed of Him..." I don't find those so much convicting as I do annoying.
It was an e-mail from Catalyst Monthly. It's kinda like a webzine, and inside was an article by Francis Chan. I could go on and on about Francis Chan, but for now I'll just say that I so appreciate his writing and speaking. It always, always points me back to Jesus and challenges me to make sure He is the focus of all I do.
This article was no different. It was challenging. Motivating. Encouraging. Just what I needed today. It's called "Public Passion vs Private Devotion," and it really challenged me to take a look at my faith life and make sure I haven't forsaken my first love (Revelation 2). To seek an intimate relationship with Him always, and ensure that what others see and believe about that relationship is not a lie.
It's not a hard thing, to forsake my God for ministry. To get so caught up in the busyness of doing ministry, that I forget why I'm doing it in the first place. Well, of course I don't forget God. I forget to love Him. He takes a back seat to me and my ministry. And hence, sigh, I am eventually worshiping the ministry I do, not God Himself, the reason I do it. I am loving my ministry, and forgetting to love God.
I know as a leader, and particularly as a worship leader, I am at my most effective when my faith life is rich, and I am experiencing a deep relationship with my Father. My heart and lips overflow with praises, and they are genuine. When I find myself in a "faith drought," feeling disconnected from God, waiting to hear from Him, and straining under life's burdens, I am grieving a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him. And I can fake that I have one, but what good would that do the people I am leading? My heart and lips still praise Him, but those praises are...not ingenuous, they're just...strained. They don't come as naturally as they do when my heart is overflowing. Why would I want to paint a picture of myself, particularly as relates to my God, that itself isn't true? I may fool others (and sometimes even myself!), but I certainly don't fool my Lord. I'd be much wiser to focus those energies on digging deeper into His Word, turning back to Him, and loving Him.
And now to the resolutions part. The article's title comes from, in my opinion, the best, most convicting, challenging, heartbreaking quote of the entire thing. He quotes a Christian leader as saying, "I refuse to let my public passion exceed my private devotion."
Wow. Just wow. Good stuff.
So now, I'm going to put that resolve to work: I am determined to live this out. I don't ever want anyone to believe I am more devoted to, passionate in, or driven by my faith, by my commitment to and love for God, than God Himself would say I am. I want my public passion for God to flow out of my private devotion to Him.
That is my New Year's resolution.