Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 6

Reception, Response and Balance

Gain insights on balancing receiving and giving in pastoral ministry. The lesson emphasizes self-reflection and spiritual renewal, encouraging you to note activities where you feel revived and those where you give to others. By examining these, you understand the balance between receiving God's grace and actively ministering, avoiding overexertion and burnout. It teaches that maintaining this balance is crucial for effective and sustainable ministry.

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Reception, Response and Balance

Reception, Response and Balance

I. What does it mean to sit at the feet of Jesus and work for his kingdom?

II. Reception

III. Response

IV. Balance

  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • This lesson covers the involvement of Christians in societal issues, using historical examples and emphasizing the balance of Christ's work for and in believers, while critiquing modern church practices and advocating for active ministry participation by all members.
  • This lesson teaches the importance of balancing Christian service with receptivity to God's word, using the story of Martha and Mary to illustrate the need for prioritizing spiritual union with Christ over mere activity, emphasizing the consequences of a divided heart and the necessity of both justification and sanctification.
  • Learn to identify red flags in your ministry, distinguish between serving God and personal ambition, and address anxiety, self-pity, and control issues by trusting God and adopting humility.
  • Understand the theological concept that your essence is divinely created and precedes your existence, contrasting this with Sartre's existentialism, and learn the importance of receiving God's guidance over defining your life by accomplishments.
  • Learn to critically evaluate your motives, distinguish between self-serving and God-serving actions, understand the role of community in avoiding self-deception, recognize the significance of Christ's atonement, handle red flags, and balance people's expectations with God's calling.
  • The lesson teaches you to balance spiritual renewal and active ministry by self-reflecting on weekly activities, ensuring you receive God's grace and effectively respond to His directives, thus preventing burnout and sustaining a healthy ministry.
  • Learn to live like a reservoir, receiving spiritual replenishment before giving, through prioritizing key practices like prayer and scripture, and avoiding depletion by maintaining a constant spiritual reservoir and making essential practices an integral part of daily life.
  • This lesson teaches you to live by integrating core Christian principles daily, maintaining foundational practices like loving God, building relationships, serving vocally, and caring for your body, while emphasizing the importance of following Jesus closely and avoiding the pitfalls of church leadership.
  • Learn about the eight deadly sins, their historical and spiritual context, and the importance of overcoming them through spiritual disciplines, while illustrating the consequences of these sins through biblical examples, especially emphasizing the dangers of anger and depreciation of God's goodness.
  • Learn about dealing with inordinate sadness and grief in ministry, understanding the importance of acknowledging suffering, supporting others compassionately, handling difficult relationships with integrity, and addressing unresolved anger constructively.
  • You learn the importance of gratitude, the dangers of sadness and acedia, the need for internal well-being through a relationship with God, and the power of infused hope in overcoming ministry challenges.
  • Gain insights into the dangers of vainglory and pride, the importance of humility, prayer, and community support, and the significance of recognizing God's sovereignty in overcoming self-centeredness and narcissism.
  • Integrating sermon teachings into your heart is crucial, all sins are deadly, and you should submit worries to God, rejoice, and take every thought captive for Christ, using early church wisdom to overcome temptations like gluttony for spiritual growth.
  • This lesson teaches you how to identify and combat the eight deadly sins using virtues like temperance, chaste love, poverty of spirit, meekness, appreciation, infused faith, hope, love, and humility, relying on divine grace to transform these vices into a deeper spiritual life.
  • Understand that crises, whether personal or ministry-related, are opportunities for spiritual growth by seeking God's refuge, understanding forced detachment crises, maintaining healthy life rhythms, and recognizing divine purification amidst challenges.
  • This lesson teaches how crises reveal the light of Christ, illustrating the transformative power of faith through biblical examples and personal experiences, emphasizing reliance on God's resources and presence, and portraying ministry as a pressure cooker demanding quick maturity and resilience.
  • Explore Christian anthropology, understanding God's image in us, and the dimensions of human life, roles, and spiritual longings, emphasizing the balance between physical, functional, and spiritual aspects guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • This lesson continues the study of Christian anthropology through Adrian Von Comm's field theory, emphasizing Christ at the center of interconnected aspects of human existence—interior, relational, here and now, and global life—encouraging balance, cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and harmonious Christian living.
  • Learn that as a leader, worship is central to your role, involving a holistic response to God's love and guidance, emphasizing discipleship, biblical understanding, and aligning with God's purpose through praise and adoration, preventing apathy and enriching your leadership journey.
  • Understand that true worship according to the New Testament is about honoring and serving God alone, avoiding idolatry, and leading a life of genuine service and love toward Him, while recognizing and addressing the major obstacles to authentic worship within contemporary church practices.
  • Understand the importance of genuine worship leadership, personal worship alignment, the significance of historical church traditions, the dangers of overloaded worship services, and the mission to uphold true worship against global falsehoods.
  • Learn about the core aspects of worship in Revelation 4, emphasizing humility, submission, and the connection between future and present worship, encouraging heartfelt adoration and genuine worship practices in church leadership.
  • Learn how a leader's spiritual life impacts their ministry, the necessity of comprehensive discipleship, the integration of gospel content into daily life, and the importance of articulating and practicing core theological doctrines.
  • Explore the dynamic nature of spiritual life and leadership, emphasizing shifts from traditional to transformative ministry, clergy-centered to congregation-empowered roles, and solo to team leadership, advocating mature discipleship and active laity engagement.
  • Learn the importance of integrating sermons into discipleship, focusing on high commitment, contextualization, personal mentoring, and a family-like atmosphere, while emphasizing biblical and theological grounding for a solid foundation.
  • Biblical and theological grounding, genuine discipleship, and the formation of life-giving dispositions are crucial for spiritual growth and active participation in God's mission, leading to personal joy, communal fulfillment, and a global impact.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of a Leader
Reception, Response and Balance
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] Well, welcome back. We want to continue drilling into the agenda for our course. And this is going to kind of be like an onion. We're going to peel away layer after layer, look at it from different angles. Always asking the Lord to help us with this and to seek his guidance and to know that he wants us to be faithful to his kingdom. Faithful to the sun. Following the sun. I think he also wants us to be fruitful. Fruitful in the sense not with not in the sense of of massive metrics, but really understanding what are the metrics. And so let's let that tease you a little bit for what will come. I mean, when it's all said and done, what are we after? Well, better put. What does the Lord water us to be after in pastoral ministry, in any kind of ministry for him? What's the goal and what's the condition of our hearts that we have to that needs to be in place for us to understand the goal? So that's coming that that that will be part of it. But for now, I want us to springboard continue to springboard over the start of this started to marry in us has to rest at the feet of Jesus if the Martha in us is to do her work. All right, so you're getting the idea now. It's a both. And it's not just Martha's world of activism. It would not just be Mary's world of just sitting at his feet. It's a both and but interesting. You see the hierarchy in it. I'm always a little leery when the church starts talking about hierarchy. This from personal, personally having to live under a hierarchy. Yeah, our hierarchy is the Lord Christ and his word for us.


[00:02:22] And so we're getting a real sense here of how he wants us to order our our, our world. And so I want you to see this and feel it. And we're going to draw some of it out. But let's let's look at this business now of, well, what does it mean to both sit and stand and to work for his kingdom? So if you've got a blank piece of paper you could draw, just draw a line down it. You see a line down the middle of it. And I want I want to invite you at home or in your small groups, wherever you are working on this. I want to invite you to really enter into some self-reflection here. And I want you to think about if last week was a normal week. I just want you to think about last week. Only if it was a normal week. I we'll use last week. Or if you were doing something extraordinary last week, it wasn't a normal week. Then go wherever the last normal week was. All right. So the first thing I'd like for you to do. Is work on this business of reception. Now, if you can imagine how the Lord created you and the image of God that you most deeply are the the your greatest dignity, how the fact that you were love before the beginning of time, that you will always be loved. So think about. Think about how he created you. And if you just think this big, beautiful hearts that he's giving you. I just drew a lopsided heart. But anyway, so on the one on this one side, I want you to think in terms of reception and. Think about the Times last week where you saw yourself as being revived in any way.


[00:04:53] And I want you to just ride them down. Where were you? Revived. What did the Lord use to revive you? And it'd be really important to be honest here, particularly if you are in a small group. And, you know, a lot of times we'll want to say our little religious religiously things, but. And those are good and right. But the truth is, you may have been revived through hearing the song. You may have been revived through walking, you may have been revived through an interaction you had with someone else. You know, just think of where even be specific, you know, I was tired at this point and then such and such unfolded. Sometimes you may go to a movie, sometimes you might be reading a book. I want you to just get that get that image in your mind. What is it that brings a sense of renewal into your life? Then think about where you were blessed. You know, a little joy came into your life. I've got to be honest with you. When I am when I'm in this kind of a climate, it's a refreshing. It's a clean. The air is not stifling. The air is clean. I love this climate scene, the the wildflowers and then the planted flowers that are around us. You know, that's a blessing to me being able to interact with other saints in Christ. That's that's a blessing. You know, the Lord, there's 10,000 blessings in 10,000 ways throughout the day. We can we can harken back to a one of the great spiritual writers who would talk about the activity of God is everywhere and always present, but open only to the eyes of those who have the faith to see it. And so you get what he's trying to say.


[00:07:27] And a thousand people tried to say it is that Grace is always present. Well, what did the Lord use to speak his grace into your life this last week? Who knows what all it could be. Think about ways in which you felt cared for. And nurtured in the faith. One of the great joys I have now is that even when I invest in students, I'll have any number of those students who will grow into maturity in Christ, and I'll receive some of their ministry from them and I'm blown away, you know. So suddenly the one who mentored is now being mentored and the one who taught and led is now being taught and led. So I had I've had an instance like that take place this past week. And then specifically, where did God speak to you? How did he speak to you in his word? Where did he where did he bless you this last week? Do you see what I'm doing here on this reception side? What is it that the Lord used? Or what were the circumstances that the Lord brought about for you to have an influx of His love and his grace in your life? Now, it's important to to look at things like this so that you can begin to see whether Mary's dominating or Martha's dominating, whether there's any Mary at all, or whether Martha has it all her own way or in some cases, there's actually the other way where there's too much of resting and too much of receiving without actually donating forth the word of the Lord. So take a moment. And even if you need to pause the the teaching time for a while, do that. Fill these things out. Right now. Let's look at the look at the other side.


[00:10:04] So the other side remember the human heart. So we've got the receiving side of the human heart, but we also have the responding or responsible. Side of the human heart where I can. The Lord gives me the possibility of saying yes to His directives. The directives that come from the Word of the Lord gives me the possibility of actually implementing what He wants me to do. Now, as we'll see later on this, this oftentimes takes a great amount of courage. But it's there. That capacity is there for us to not only receive God's good blessings, but to be his hand of mercy, for others to put into play what we receive. I know that in one instance, in my own pastoral ministry, we found ourselves a little bit tight financially in the local church, and I found myself very frustrated with the way in which funds were being raised in that local church, mainly through doing a pledge in the fall and then counting on everybody living up to their pledges later. And to be honest, at that point, I heard a teaching from none other than John Maxwell. And basically I came away from that thinking, you know, just do away with this whole pledge thing. Start pressing the people to to tithe on their income and trust God, you know, not to not to do a pledge campaign for at least a regular annual budget. And I took it to those who helped me govern the church and lead the church. And some of them were absolutely adamant. Now, don't press pledge and don't do that. That'll be offensive. And and I just heard the word and I actually need to attribute this to John Maxwell. And that is why should somebody who's robbing God of his ties and offerings, why should somebody be allowed to govern the church? You know, and I just heard the word no, be courageous.


[00:12:56] Go ahead and press the people of God on the fact that everything belongs to the Lord. Do it. Just step out of faith and cut out your pledge campaign. That seems to me at the time, in my setting, it seemed to promote lack of faith. Just press the biblical standards of giving. It all belongs to the Lord, and we give a starting point of 10% back to the Lord. So anyway, that was the way in which I could hear from the Lord, hear from others, because other most of the leadership said, Yes, let's do this, let's trust this, let's trust in be bold here in the Lord. And we had testimonies and all of that. So it was another way to try and change the culture. But it was done by hiring first and then by moving forward. So think about ways now in which you are donating the energy that the Lord gives you. Think about specific ways in which you are giving back. So go over your normal week. This might take a while. List out all of your roles, functions and tasks. What all did you do this past week in pastoral ministry? I used to require those who worked for me to keep a log of how many pastoral contacts they made every week, how many phone calls, how many committee meetings, how many hospital visits, everything. I did not to see if they were doing their job. I did it to give to allow them to see how much they were over functioning in their job. And also to say, now, look, this is this is a record before the Lord of what we're trying to do. But you can clearly see here you're watching yourself out by doing this much and by keeping their hours so, so aware where what all what all of you done for the Lord this past week.


[00:15:12] And this is a positive thing. Now, we I don't want to be negative in my illustrations, but how are you giving of yourself? To help others and to seek to mold others into the image of Christ that they most deeply are. And how are you pouring any kind of love? Look, anytime you type an email or today, it's usually takes time. You text in time, you do teaching moments, sermons. You're any time you're doing articles, any time you're getting in the car, going to visit people, this takes energy from you. This takes a lot, or it can take a lot of energy. The more people you see, the more of a new energy of your own life that that's going to involved. So list it out. I mean, have your list side by side. You've got the reception side of one. On this side, you've got the donation side on the other. Any place, any place in which you are ministering to the needs of others. Now, after you do this, I think what's going to be important in looking at all of this, what's going to be really important is how are these things balancing out? Now think about it. Think about it. I grew up in a part of the world. I grew up farming and ranching in a part of the world called West Texas. This is a semi-arid, rather desolate part of the world. It has its own beauty and I love it and I'm thankful for it. I wouldn't trade for where the Lord grew me up. One of the things we had to do in West Texas in terms of farming is what's called contour farming. And contour farming meant that if there was any kind of grade in the land where it sloped any, you wanted to plow contours into that so that when the occasional and I do stress occasional rain came.


[00:17:51] This is not like Washington state. When the occasional rain came, it wouldn't wash it all out and create gullies or or even worse, wash off the topsoil, which could very quickly happen. And so we're very we're very careful about that. Now, here's the deal. Here's what we're going to see in pastoral ministry, in any ministry for the Lord, whether as a pastor, a missionary behind the scenes, whatever you do, and it can be it can readily devolve, in other words, go downhill fairly quickly in terms of all the nutrients in your life. All the soil of your life can be washed away through overexertion, through doing more than what the Lord himself is asking you to do, and through failing to balance this whole business, get this whole business of reception in place. In other words, let me show you. So you're if you're you're if you're book if your notes come back. Where is full moon bom bom bom bom bom bom bom, bom, bom, bom, bom. All the way down here on the giving side, the donating side. Here's what I'm doing in terms of donating energy. And on the reception side, there's only a little bit going on. Then sooner or later I can fairly well guarantee that that you're only going to want one thing from the church and that's out of the church. You're only going to want one thing. Now, it could be that you actually have a little bit more reception side than you do on the giving side. I don't know. But I do know hopefully you're going to come across in a balanced way. You'll also see that sometimes you'll have a one activity. They'll show up on both sides. For instance, you go to visit someone in the hospital and lo and behold, they end up being a tremendous blessing to you and you receive more than you ever give.


[00:20:30] I mean, is that is that not a part of ministering in the name of Christ that you receive so much more than what you give? So this is not something to be stressed out about unless this side is severely, severely crippled and unless this is set into a disposition where you put yourself in a in a way of living, a manner of being, and in which the doing side just totally, completely outweighs any kind of reception side, We're actually going to look at this further.