From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture emphasizes the importance of time alone with God, simplicity and worship.
Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus “often went into the wilderness and prayed.” If Jesus needed time alone with the Father, then certainly we do as well.
With respect to a simple life, the Apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to, “lead a quiet life,” and elsewhere he exhorted the church in Corinth not to be, “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Yet, so often are we distracted and drained by the busyness of this world.
As for worship, in Revelation 22:9, we see John’s focus realigned with the powerful imperative, “Worship God!” As pastors, we know how easy it is for us to start worshipping something God has blessed us with, but such a focus is always a misalignment.
Most pastors would wholeheartedly agree that time alone with God, simplicity and worship are indispensable for ministry. However, what we say as pastors is one thing. What we do can sadly be another. We can easily agree and even teach that these things are “essential” while simultaneously deeming them “non-essential” through our actions.
If time alone with God takes a back seat to time spent with people, or if the demands of ministry make simplicity seem like an impossibility, or if preparations for worship actually become a greater priority than worship itself, then we need to take a step back and reevaluate our priorities and focus.
I have been a pastor for over 24 years, but it took the social distancing of COVID-19 to remind me of the essential nature of time alone with God, simplicity and worship. These essentials must be lived out in our lives as pastors – not for others to see – but for the Lord.
When you cannot visit with your people, there is a silver lining in visiting with God. When you cannot run the kids to sporting events or go to your favorite restaurant with friends, there is a silver lining in simplicity. When you awkwardly stand before a camera in an empty sanctuary and wonder if this is really making a difference, there is a silver lining in knowing that you are doing the only thing that can really make a difference — worshipping God.
Pastors, as we come out of this time of social distancing, let us never forget the essentials of spending time alone with God, living a more simple life in Christ and making worship our priority. As you focus on these essentials, may the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace!