1 Timothy 4:7
When we think of training, we often think of job training or a boring class we may need to go to, to learn about some thing that somebody else tells us might be important. It’s a funny and awkward situation to speak about. The term used by Paul is in the context of training for a race or a competition. In this sense, we are able to understand training. We all understand the difficulty of this in regards to physical training. The rigor it requires of us to train physically is what Paul is speaking of when in response to godliness.
This spiritual training at times can be seen as nebulous or vague. Maturity is often boiled down to the quantity of bible we read or the attendance of church. While these may be important measures, they are neither sufficient nor encompassing of maturity and training in godliness.
It’s my fervent desire to do this in my own daily life. By weaving these components of training into my everyday life, it is my hope that my life more and more conforms to that of Christ. If I say I love others, it must appear in my life. If i love my family, I will be intentionally thoughtful about that time. It is my wholehearted desire that beyond my own comfort, I seek to follow Christ first. Here’s a couple areas of my life in which I’ve endeavored to follow Christ more closely.
I connect with God primarily through reading my bible and meditating on it. I then I meet with folks who are walking a similar path as me. Those who can challenge me to move me out of my spiritual comfort zone. My reading happens after I drop off my daughter Karis at school. I read as much as I can handle. If the passage is interesting then I’ll read more. If I’m not quite in the mood, I at least read a couple sentences to ponder upon. I use most of an hour meditating and thinking upon what I read, people that God placed on my heart when I read, and what I liked and disliked about the passage. I stop myself to reflect on my heart and what is causing my feelings and I ask God to continue to reveal more as the day goes along.
I seek to identify the right people in whom I can trust to listen, but also challenge and offer alternatives. I have found that I personally need a perspective that is outside of my context that can be more objective. This is because I myself, tend to be more emotional in nature, and I need a steady and sober mind to help me to formulate new options beyond barriers that I see and do not see. I may meet with some trusted friends to challenge me over lunch twice a week. This limits me to one hour sessions which can easily be done over a lunch break. I find these times helpful and practical.
The last thing is that I try to involve myself in my community. This is best done to open up opportunities to share my life and eventually my faith with them. When I coach wrestling on Mondays and Tuesdays, I am often asked what my main occupation is. This becomes a perfect bridge to begin talking about my faith. Those whom I coach are often surprised that I can wrestle with them and also talk with them more personally.
I play in two separate soccer leagues and when possible, Tuesday evening soccer on our church campus. This affords me opportunities to showcase my soccer skills, but also connect with others on the team. Often, identifying with people on their terms helps to build a common bridge to share my faith or even invite them to our home or our church. In one league, I play with another member from our church, and it has not only been a fun group to play with, but an enlightening experience to hear the language and the conversations players have with one another.
You may now ask where I fit in time with my family. I can also tell you that the struggle is very real in balancing my time outside of the home, with church responsibilities, and a growing family. I try to stay at home 4-5 nights a week and seek to be present and engaged when I am there. I seek to spend time alone with each family member individually to stay connected on a personal level with them, even if it is a small amount of time each day. On my weekends, alongside attending church, I try to reserve that time for my family to connect with other families through birthday parties or dinners in our unique season of life with young kids.
In my life as a pastor, the challenge is always remaining vigilant about my own spiritual growth, to attend to my family, and to my church community. While all this ebbs and flows, It is always a challenge to find a balance between all the different responsibilities I may have at any point in time. I practice asking this question often, “During this season, where would God have me focus my energies towards?” Life is never one season, but back to back to back seasons until we see the Lord. Let’s not get too overwhelmed about next season, but let us think intentionally and deliberately about what God has given us to tend to this season. When the next season comes, God will give us something else. Let’s be faithful with what God has given and let us be prepared to harvest and receive what God gives to us next season.
One of you,