Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 7

Reservoir vs. Canal

A canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. A reservoir waits till it’s filled then discharges water without loss to itself. Today, there are many in God’s church that act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom heavenly doctrine flows that they want to pour it forth to us before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves. High mountain lakes have one stream out and water level relatively constant throughout the year. How is the water level staying constant in your life? Depletion results in erosion of presence, and results in just going through the motions. 

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 7
Watching Now
Reservoir vs. Canal

Reservoir vs. Canal

I. Reservoir vs. Canal

A. Example of high mountain lakes

B. Depletion of presence

C. What are the streams of mercy in your life?

1. Examples

2. The means of grace by John Wesley

3. How are the streams flowing in your life?

4. Illustration of the big rocks

5. Examples of "big rocks"

  • 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.
  • Christian activism is Christians seeking to be involved in the issues and needs of the day and time. Wesleyans in the 1700's in England sought to minister to people that others didn’t care about. To be called by Christ is to be called into the body of Christ. A biblical model is that every member is a full-fledged minister of the gospel without distinction between clergy and laity. 

  • Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord. (Download the complete text of the sermon by clicking on the link on this page or under the Downloads heading on the class page.)

  • Which do you love more, the Lord or the projects you are doing for him? Is your goal to exalt the Lord or build a personal kingdom? Essence of anxiety is whether or not you can trust God. The question to ask when you begin having feelings of self-pity is, “Is you life going to be defined by how you think it ought to go?”  The blame-shame mindset is that you are unhappy because there is something wrong with the people around you. When you experience these red flags in your ministry, you should recognize it as time that it’s possible that the Lord may be prompting you to make a change in your life.The Mary in you must rest at the feet of Jesus if the Martha in you is to do her work.

  • Essence is who the Lord has created you to be. Biblically, essence precedes existence as oppose to Sartre's teaching that man is no more than what he makes of himself. God has given us the capacity of reception, to be able to hear God’s voice and follow it. The spiritual life that God calls you to live is based on what you receive from God, not on what you do for God.

  • How do you determine if your motives are right in your efforts to serve God? The more gifts and talents we have, the more susceptible we are to self-deception regarding our motives. Resist the urge to make pleasing people your primary motivation. You will never please everyone and in the process you lose sight of focusing on pleasing God. When people have expectations of you that don’t match what God has called you to do, there are times when you must, “let Lazarus die.”

  • God wants us to be faithful to the kingdom and his son and fruitful according to his metrics. What’s the goal and what condition do our hearts need to be in to understand the goal? The Mary in us needs to rest at the feet of Jesus in order for the Martha in us to do her work. Think about when you experienced renewal and think about when you were blessed. When you have received God’s blessing, how has that resulted in demonstrating his hand of mercy to someone else? How are your activities balanced?

  • A canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. A reservoir waits till it’s filled then discharges water without loss to itself. Today, there are many in God’s church that act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom heavenly doctrine flows that they want to pour it forth to us before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves. High mountain lakes have one stream out and water level relatively constant throughout the year. How is the water level staying constant in your life? Depletion results in erosion of presence, and results in just going through the motions. 

  • The Lord desires that we live dispositionally. Important elements include loving God, living devotionally, relational strengthening, vocational serving (listening with the intent of following what I hear). Dallas Willard wrote, “If I am a disciple of Jesus, I am with him to learn from him, how to be like him." The primary calling of a pastor is to follow Jesus, within the calling of leading a church. 

  • The eight deadly sins are in the order that Satan uses to try to get us and in the order in which we need redemption. Gormandize means you are overdoing it and being a slave to flesh. Fornication refers to a wandering heart and seeking to devour others. Avarice is the love of money and sometimes is a fear of not having enough. Anger is a rancorous spirit. The spiritual cancer of depreciation is looking at the vast horizon of God’s goodness in his creation and my life and depreciating it, only seeing what’s wrong. Psalm 51:10-12, create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

  • When you experience a difficult situation, how do you begin to turn your focus away from the negative and on to what God is doing? How do you respond when you are working closely with people that don't like you? What do you do as a leader when there is a person that is angry with you and disagrees with how you are leading?

  • The sin of acedia is, “I don’t care anymore.” The sin of tristitia is sadness, wrongly processing suffering and loss, allowing the soul to close in on itself and refuse instruction from God. Tristitia is neither a result of other people or of our outward circumstances. Satan wants to get us off the track in stupid presumption or in sinful carelessnenss. God redeems the hurt that evil has done.

  • In the early church passion was seen as something that controlled you and out of control and leading you astray, not a positive motivation. John Cassion described vainglory as passion to take pleasure in our own qualities. The danger is that we take credit for what God is doing. In pursuit of being popular, we often sacrifice who we are at the core. Pride is the original vice from which all others spring. Pride can develop into functioning atheism. The cure for pride is to have the humility of Jesus in our heart. 

  • Is there a sin that's not deadly? To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin? What does it take to overcome gluttony? The minute you make an exception for yourself, you either presume on the grace of God or break a known law of God. Admit what you are feeling and submit it to God to have faith in him in the situation, then do your part.

  • Instead of gluttony, we see temperance. Temperance means living a balanced life. Chaste love is extending love to others, not preying on them. Poverty of spirit rather than greed. Cultivate meekness to deal with anger. You have been forgiven much so you should be willing to forgive others much. Cultivate faith, hope and love to deal with hopelessness. Cultivate humility to deal with vainglory. Evangelism in the first 300 years a result of the quality of the lives of disciples as they lived in a hostile environment. 

  • A transcendent crisis is yearning for the “more than.” “Is life meaningful?” “Is God good?” Can I trust my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? An idolatry crisis happens when you run after a passion rather than pursue God. Each person in your sphere of influence is going through crises in their own lives. God can use a crisis to help something in us die so we can experience and share the light of Christ.

  • To feed the 5,000, the disciples had to rely on Jesus because they didn’t have the resources. Jesus walked out on the water to comfort the disciples with his presence. The disciples thought they were going to die a terrible death. If you choose to think your situation, the church and others are hopeless, it results in ego desperation, or hopelessness. You see what’s wrong, you think you have exhausted your resources and you see no way that it’s going to get fixed. If you allow the crisis to take you into the life of Christ and dependence on him, it will not destroy you. 

  • It's important for us to understand how our relationship with God is affected by being born at a certain period of time and in a certain society. The vital is the physical dimension of the human life. Vitalism is where your physical pleasures become the priority in your life.  Functional is the roles, tasks and responsibilities we take on. It’s a problem when we allow our roles and responsibilities to define us, which is functionalism. Transcendent is the longing for the “more than.” Pneumatic/Ecclesial level is the capacity the Lord has given each of us to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, God’s voice. When ambition gets separated from the leading of the Spirit, it can become self-promotion. Functional Transcendence is you using the things of God for self-gain.

  • It's important to keep Christ at the center of who you are. Interiority includes memory, intellect, will. Augustine says will is most important.In addition to our personal thoughts, we exist in community with others who are submitting their lives to the will of Christ. The Lord has placed us in a certain place and time and wants you to live a life of obedience in that context every day, not just one day a week. The Father is seeking to form your life into the image of Christ as you were meant to be. Through our experiences, God forms you into a unique person. On the relational side, this results in compassion for others because we love others with the same love we experienced. God gives us confidence that he has given us the gifts and resources we need to live out the calling he has given us. Competence that our ministry will be effective. Our courage comes from trusting in the strength of the Lord. Community, the work of God’s Church is a work done with others. Confirmation comes internally from God and externally from the community of faith. 

  • If you are following Jesus, you have a role as a leader. If a spiritual leader does not understand what their task is according to scripture, then their spiritual life is not going to have the focus the Lord wants them to have.  Worship is a response of the love that has been shown to us. Worship involves our all aspects of us and is enabled by God’s Spirit. We worship God because of who he is. By looking at Jesus, you see who God is.

  • The Church needs you to present what Scripture says, not your own ideas. Worship means to kneel before someone out of respect or honor. We owe it to God as an act of service to sit at his feet and worship him. Spiritual worship is to place our physical bodies at God’s disposal. Are we leading people to worship God, or just providing religious goods and services to them? Solid biblical teaching is important. Structure follows purpose. We are failing to dig down into the revelation of God and let the revelation of God set the compass. If you are not careful, your program sets your agenda.

  • Movements in worship: 1. kneeling in acts of loving worship. Kneeling in submission before God to acknowledge that you are dependent on him. 2. Exalting God by declaring his worthiness 3. Receiving God’s life symbolized by the sacrament of communion. 4. Empowers us and encourages us to go out and serve. We participate in the fellowship and life of the Trinity. We need to immerse ourselves in relationship to God and let that inform and empower what we do so that our worship service is more than creating an experience or transmitting information. Be explicit about your purpose in worship and include prayer.

  • The elders fall before the throne, they worship the Lord and they cast their crowns before him. Falling before the throne represents an acknowledging of God as absolute deity. What is going to happen in the future tells us what we should be doing now. When we fall down before the throne, our heart condition is inward humility and submission to the Lord. Then they raise up and exalt the Lord by proclaiming his worth. Inward love results in proclaiming what is right, good, just and holy. Taking of crowns is an outward expression of placing everything we have under the Lordship of Christ and an inward movement of total abandonment of everything we are to God.

  • The call of Jesus to, “follow me” is the call to redirect everything in our lives. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the father by actively following Jesus the Son while continually depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Faith is my trust in Jesus as well as the content of the Gospel. Practice is putting it into play. Catechism is the content of the faith, and catechesis is how you express it. Cheap grace is not biblical because it allows for justification without ensuing discipleship. Primary purposes of the church are to proclaim the Gospel, worship and make disciples. In addition to knowing the content, you must live it out. Clergy need to learn how to make and train disciples. Laity must be fully committed full-time ministers of the body of Christ.

  • Movements that are necessary for the church today to fulfill what God is calling them to do. For the clergy, 1. moving from pastor as the primary minister to each believer fulfilling their calling as full-time ministers in their spheres of influence; 2. Moving from preaching only to not only appropriate sermon preparation time but also discipling a core group; 3. Moving from a priority on numbers to staying with a process that results in mature disciples; 4. From solo leadership to team leadership. Discipleship should not be optional. Old Christendom model is breaking down but confusion on who and what we are called to be. “Is my first aim to make disciples, or do I just run an operation?” For the laity, 1. From going to church to being Church; 2. From expecting benefits from Christianity requiring no sustained effort to being intent on being disciples; 3. From being passive observers to full-time ministers. Primary purpose of leader is to equip the people of God to do the work of God.

  • The sermon is a critical part of the discipleship process. The “through” movement is the process of the “from-to” movement. Each of these steps must be contextualized to your situation. We are aiming for maturity in Christ. As a leader, you love the whole but you only disciple the few. Don’t neglect public proclamation but don’t see that as the end of your ministry. Daily pray, read scripture, weekly services, small groups acts of service, fasting, giving. Discipleship is helping people integrate the word of God into their lives.

  • Tozer says we don’t have the right of choosing Jesus as Savior and postponing our obedience. Dispositions are something that’s part of your daily life. Christian disciplines help us to love God and love our neighbor. Encourage people to seek God’s direction for where he wants them to serve. The biblical model is that mature Christians will live as disciplined followers. Make it a goal for pure love to fill your heart and govern your words and actions.

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


Reservoir vs. Canal

Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] Let's look. I don't know if you know the name Bernard of Clairvaux or Bernard, depending. Depends on what part of the world you live in, on how you say it. The greatest sermon I've ever read in my life. One of the greatest sermons is Sermon 18 from Bernard's commentary on the song of Songs. Bernard was actually quite a controversial person then and now, But I love his writings, and I'm very, very thankful. Before his writings. So here, look at this. The person who is wise therefore will see his or her life is more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. The reservoir retains the water till it is filled in, discharges the overflow without loss to itself, and a mark that without loss to itself. He or she knows that a curse is on the person who allows his or her own property to degenerate. And if you think my opinion worthless, then listen to one who's wiser. And I, the fool fool, Sid Solomon comes out with all his feelings at once, but the wise man subdues and restrains them. Now. So Bernard is writing nearly a thousand years ago. Yet what is about to ride here is just as wrecked. Revel revel it now is it ever was a thousand years ago. Today there are many in God's church who act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom the streams of heavenly doctrine flow to us, that they want to pour it forth before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves.


[00:02:10] Lord have mercy. So let's talk about this reservoir business and see yet another image that will help us to get a hold of this major construct of reception preceding donation or receiving love from our Lord prior to canonic self giving or kenosis. And that is this whole business of a reservoir that Bernard talked about. Now, let me share with a phenomenon with you that I've seen wherever I have gone, mountain climbing and mountaineering, mostly in the Rocky Mountain Range in the United States, in New Mexico and in Colorado. But I've also seen this phenomenon in the Himalayas, mountains in India, everywhere I've done any kind of mountain climbing. I've seen I've seen this image. So I'm going to draw a very, very poor facsimile of a high mountain like an artist. I am not. So you're going to have to you're going to have to bear with me. So these are natural. I'm talking about a natural high mountain. Like, you know, they're going to have weird kind of designs. And what you'll see in these in these natural lakes is you'll see maybe sometimes you might see three or four streams, actually little streams coming into them. The stream, of course, not being a river, but a fairly good size mount, a body of water. But you might also see literally dozens of little brooks, just little bitty fingers of water feeding into them all around the lake. But here's the one phenomenon that I've never seen an exception to, though I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions because my own view is so limited to these high mountain lakes. And this looks like some really sad amoeba. I apologize for my illustration. May have to do something with this, but these lakes always flow out.


[00:05:00] With a single stream. And here's the other here's the other thing that I've seen. The level of the water stays relatively normal throughout a year in these high mountain crater lakes. You might only see a three or four foot difference in water between the low water mark, at least in the Rocky Mountain range. In North America, the low water mark always comes at the end of September, beginning of October, and then the snow start coming back in and then those lakes will start rising up. But throughout the year in these natural crater lakes way up high, the water level stays relative pretty much the same. So the issue here is there's a primary outflow. In other words, this is vacation. Vocation simply means calling. You know, I'm hearing my calling from the Lord, and the primary vocation is how I seek to live that out in ministry, in whatever form a ministry. And let me also say here that we really need to reclaim the fact that being a Christian teacher, being a Christian mechanic, being a Christian doctor, physician, nurse, whatever this is, this is 100% ministry, absolute 100%. We want people to understand themselves as being full time ministers of the Gospel called to apply it in every area in which they may be called to serve others, but while primarily serving the Lord. So it's this water level, the water level, the depth, the depth of the water level. How is that steam constant? That's the issue. How is that staying constant in your life? Negatively when the water level starts going down, then it's called depletion. And. Depletion if left unchecked, quite literally. If it's left unchecked, it will result in a complete erosion of presence. Where anything alive stops growing in that soil.


[00:07:58] There is no soil left. There's nothing to give. Depletion will give way to merely going through. The motions. Which sometimes we have to do at times, particularly in times of emergency, in times of danger. However, when the majority of life becomes merely going through the motions, then it's going to devolve where there's no water left. There's nothing there's nothing to give there. And then you're truly talking about a full blown crisis. Where you can't do it anymore, you literally can't do it. So it's it's it's somewhat common to hear leaders, particularly ministry leaders, who will say, just don't be surprised if you don't find me here next year or next month or whenever. That's a common thing to hear. So it's called depletion of presence. There's just it's an erosion. Depletion then leads to erosion. And that becomes a crisis. And you've got to have some kind of intervention or things end up in a very, very bad way. All right. So the question becomes then, what are going to be what what are you allowing and what does the Lord want to be? The streams of mercy. Well, I can't spell. There are flowing into your life. And can you articulate the streams of mercy? What does the Lord use to infuse your heart and your life and your family with his goodness? So let's let's talk about those, and we're going to cover some of those. But but let's let's get them in this. Get them in your mind right now. Just from our audience here at the House today, what would you say is the number one thing the Lord uses to infuse or to put his grace and his love in your life? What would you also spontaneously go in scripture? All right.


[00:11:10] So our pastor is saying the word is is the number one. That's what the Lord uses. And clearly, this has got to be a big stream. You know, it's got to be a big strain in our lives. Not the only stream. What else? I mean, just spontaneously, those at home listening. What would you say? Fruit when God's work is bearing fruit. So what we hear is when you see fruitfulness, that comes from faithful ministry. Really, that's to me, that's the Ministry of Encouragement and confirmation that God is at work in this thing. And so there's this sense of confirmation. From the fruit. That the Lord is growing in and through even our cooperative efforts with His spirit. So good. What else? I mean, what would you say? Well, spontaneously, what comes to mind? What? What recharges is going along with? Oh, yeah. So clearly, one of the big streams has got to be prayer. The communion with God where I listen, I share, I listen, I receive. So, yeah, go ahead. He says it can't be that. No, it's got to be the one I'm getting from God. Yeah. It's not the work. Yeah. So when I see this, when I see others grow in the Lord, even if it has nothing to do with me. Sure. Really? Yeah. To see the activity of God at play is what's being shared. Now, that's that. That that literally infuses us that, hey, this is real. This is unfolding. God's providential care, even in through world history, through our own lives. Yeah, absolutely. All right, So. Part of. I think what what all of us need to do is to say, okay, this, this, this, this, this, this really needs to be in place in my life for the goodness of God to flow at a steady level in in through my life.


[00:13:54] You see in what I'm saying, all of these infusing means of his grace need to be accentuated, need to need to be given priority. What what is it that I'm giving priority to in terms of the streams of mercy so that I can live in vocational fidelity, which will always work toward at some point will be rejoicing in the fruit that God himself grows and very, very grateful to be a part of the his ongoing kingdom and his ongoing life. So as you go around, you know, you want to you you want to to to get the classic means of grace, which we're going to talk about. But you also want to say, okay, you know, there is things that literally bring goodness into my life. It could be sewing. It could be cooking. I do know that one thing that brings goodness into my life is the cooking. Not that I do, but the cooking that my wife does. I'm very grateful for that. It could be working with your hands. It could be been out in nature. You know, you, you, the Lord has created you a unique person and has given you very distinct ways in which He fills you with his goodness. The point is, are you allowing that goodness to come about So. In one of John Wesley Sermons Sermon 16, he wrote on a major theological category for him called The Means of Grace. And what he's talking about are what are all of these streams that the Lord uses to bring His love and His grace into our lives? He says, by means of grace, I understand outward signs, words or actions ordained of God and appointed for this end to be the ordinary channels whereby God might convey to us both preventing, justifying and sanctifying grace.


[00:16:30] Now, preventing grace is the grace, of course, that draws us to the Lord as the that's the magnetism of God's love, that He'll use the 10,000 different ways in order to draw us to himself and prevent us from going so far askew that we that we just don't ever come back. And of course, just define and sanctifying. We've already covered those. Now look at these means of grace that he included. So instituted means these are things that Jesus himself gave us. These are his examples. Private and public prayer. It's both private and public where he's praying one on one with the Lord and he's praying with a group of people. And if you go into Wesley's chapel in London today, where as an older gentleman, John Wesley lived, the flat that he lived in is still there. It's restored. And you'll see a small, little tiny room that was added on this five story flat all the way up, just one room all the way up. And literally, you can stand it there in that room. And it's not much bigger than this, the span of my arms. But all that was in that room was a little. NAYLOR Where Wesley knelt down to pray. He got up for an each morning, and then he had his word in there where he'd read the word. And so what the early Methodists called that room was was this they called it the power house of Methodism. And they attributed that room to the revival that swept England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the 1700s. So clearly, the Lord wants us to be in a posture where we are listening to Him and praying to him. Wesley It's been an hour a day. 4 to 5 doing that, then searching the scriptures, reading, hearing, meditating.


[00:18:53] That's a big stream coming in. It's got to be right up there with prayer where I am allowing this word to be infused into my life. I'm loving it. I'm not trying to be a master of it. I'm trying to let it be a master of me. And certainly we want to do everything we can to enhance our study and our knowledge of of this word with the ultimate means of allowing it to tame us and to transform our own lives, then. Oh. Wesley Of course it another major stream. So we've got the word. We've got prayer is the Lord's Supper. And he was quite insistent that this take place on a regular basis. But I mean, did not our Lord Jesus institute this himself on the night before he died? You know, so this is part of what we have been given and this. Then he added, fasting. Jesus said, Look, when he goes away, they're going too fast. What Wesley did was too fast in the historic model of the church, and that was too fast on Friday's so you'd fast From Thursday evening after eating a normal meal on Thursday evening, you you'd fast to what time on Friday afternoon. Anybody remember what time on Friday afternoon. Well till 3:00 now. Three y 3:00. That's when Jesus died at 3:00. It also happened to be English high tea time as well. So we'll we'll get that sorted out in heaven. But way of fasting now by Christian Conference. This is where I will meet together with others where I'm not doing this solo leadership in ministry. Solo leadership usually ends up in a ditch, literally usually throws us in a ditch. Christian conferencing is following the example of Christ. He taught the masses.


[00:21:28] But what did he do? He trained. He disciple the few, and he put those few in a community and they did life together. And that's what we're called to do. Then, of course, works of mercy, not just doing no harm, but doing good to the bodies and souls. It's always a joint body and soul, never just focusing in on one doing good, especially first to the household of faith, to the Christians. So we are called to invest our lives in some way with those who need the gospel and be very intentional about that. That's of. So that's a means of grace. The balance means a grace is as we go around, you know, you won't have all of these primary ones fasting. And of course, for those who are diabetic or those who have medical issues, there was a good, solid medical ways that people even who are diabetic can can fast sue you. You can let go of some things without endangering your own person. You want to be careful about all that. I was teaching on all of these in Pittsburgh, and I had a I had a federal mine inspector in my class who had never fasted in his life. So this federal mine inspector says, well, Jesus says, there's something I need to do. I got to do it. He goes into without ever fasting in life, goes into a five day fast, finds himself down in the bowels of an abandoned coal mine in western Pennsylvania, collapses and, you know, causing any kind of spark. He's down there. Testing for methane in any kind of spark can be deadly. And I realized right then, you know, any time we teach on fasting, we really need to qualify and help people and know what we're talking about.


[00:23:39] There's some good resources on that. All right. So Christian community and living life with others. And this is intentional. This in casual, this is not haphazard. You see in Christian movements, in renewal movements, this is this is always part of of renewal movements that you just name it from Keswick to all the way back to the the renewal movement that Patrick himself started, Celtic Christianity. But we always talk about Saint Patrick. But the truth is Patrick went with a group of people and the Celtic renewal movement that went really until the Vikings wiped them out in the 1800s. That was a community group always. They did evangelization in community and then the works of mercy. You know, we are seeking to minister to the poor. The poor will remain a target audience. We also want to remember that I know in my own ministry I have served people who were bizarrely wealthy. They had more wealth than any one human being ever needed to have in multiple lifetimes, much less one lifetime. But in the midst of that wealth, they were some of the most impoverished people I've ever been around in my life. So where we want to be a little bit broader in our poor than just economically poor. Although we do not, if we're going to follow Christ, not want to forget that now there's all sorts of other means of grace. My heavens, jogging, walking, playing with the dogs, being with children, all sorts of means of grace. I had to put grandparents in doting over a new baby because Diane and I have had the joy of having little grandbabies. These are things that bring life into us. Now, here's the question. Here's the crucial question. How are the streams flowing into your life? And what's this level of this like? Now I want to give you one other illustration, and it's an illustration that many of you will have heard, perhaps heard in a science class or heard in a leadership class.


[00:26:47] It's the illustration called The Big Rocks. Now, let me let me tell you how this how this came to me. So a science teacher. Bought her high school class together course in the lab, and she had several huge glass beakers up on her desk. One beaker was big. His glass beakers had just a few big rocks in it. Filled all the way to the top. Just a few big rocks. Another glass beaker had had gravel. Smaller rocks and gravel. Another glass beaker had sand. And then another glass beaker was filled mostly with water, nearly to the top with water. I've actually done this class before in the seminary where I teach. And though the lady looked at her students and said, How many of you think we can get all of these beakers into one container? Not one of them said anything. None of them believe she could do it. So the lady slowly took the gravel, the smaller rocks, slowly put them in on top of the bigger rocks, shook him up. They all kind of filtered down and lo and behold, she was able get to gravel in with the big rocks. Then she said, Do ya think there's any way in the world I can get both the sand and the water in the same beaker? The kid said, No way you can do that. Takes the sand, puts a little sand and puts a little water in and puts a little sand in. Puts a little water. And before you know it, all of it is in that beaker. And then she looked at her kids and she said, This kid's own soda. Remember this? This is going to make or break your life in large measure. None of this would have happened if I hadn't put the big rocks in first.


[00:29:14] Now, here's the deal with the ministry for our Lord. Any time you go into any type of ministry for Christ, it doesn't matter whether you're in the church or whether you're in what we call secular things, although in Christ we don't do this secular or ecclesial kind of difference that all things are sacred to our Lord and all things are good for those who are in Christ. But you're going to be pulled by a thousand different little demands, lots of little gravels, lots of sand, you know, lots of little demands. And many of it is going to come up internally in your own life. In other words, you're going to feel like this is what I need to do. This is what's expected of me. This is what the people expect. This is what it means to be a good and you feel in whatever place the Lord has placed you. This is what this means. Now, here's the key. Here's the key. Nobody will make it long if you focus on the little rocks and the little details. You miss it? You missed the boat completely. When the big rocks come first, you can handle the heavy demands of ministry. But when you allow the heavy demands of ministry, all the side things to lead you and you leave out the big rocks, then guess what? Depletion starts going, and you might can live in a depleted state for decades. But sooner or later, erosion of presence where you can no longer be present to the people you're called to serve are no longer hear from the Lord. Erosion of presence leads to a full blown crisis. If I can get seminary students to do one thing, I kind of feel like I've been very successful.


[00:31:29] What's the one thing? To not only articulate the few big rocks, but to know what it's going to look like to put it in place in their lives. Now I've been around the block enough now to know that that some primary big rocks are going to have to be in place. There's got to be these big rocks around my relationship. With the Lord. And there's got to be some big rocks around my relationship. With others. And here's an important word. I mean, these things have to be dispositional. Now, let me give you a quick story about disposition or what disposition means. When my son was younger, I would take him mountaineering in the in wilderness areas in southwest Colorado. And we would literally I would pull him out of school in the fall before the big snows hit and take him up in wilderness areas, just teaching him wilderness schools of how to survive, how to how to navigate, how to work, compass maps, all of that. And when we'd camp out after I had my son, our son, for a week, he came to me. He said, Dad, let's don't go home. Let's just live here. And I said, Son, in a couple of weeks there's going to it's going to start snowing and there's going to be probably 20 to 50 feet of snow where we are right now. There's no way we can live up here. We got to go home. He was very, very sad about that. Then he looked up at me, who was seven years old at the time. He looked up at me. Now, we'd been out for nearly eight days at this point. He said this, Dad. Guess what? I said, What, son? He said, I haven't changed my underwear all week.


[00:33:56] I said, Fine, son. Just don't tell your mother, all right? Then he looked up at me again. He said, Dad, guess what else? I said, What now, son? He said, I brush my teeth all week either. I said, Oh, jeez, whatever you do, don't tell your mother that. So he would do these things when we told him to. But they weren't dispositional, you know, They just weren't a part of who who he was at that point. Now, later, as as the boy started taking an interest in the beautiful female side of things. You know, he started brushing his teeth then and were dressed and he changed his underwear. And anyway, disposition is doing what you love and nobody's telling you that. And when you don't do it, you know there's something deeply missing from your life. This is priority disposition. A living is freedom and disposition. A living says these are the big rocks that the Lord wants me to implement on a daily basis. See, at that point, Ryan, our son could. Would I literally watch him? He would not brush his teeth during the week, and then he'd brush his teeth seven times on Saturday and count it. Good. Well, that's not how disposition works. Christian Disposition says, this is who I am. This is what it means to be a human being responding to the love of God. And this is what I know I have to have in place for my life to make sense. Literally, after five years of ministry, I wanted out after five years of serving as a pastor. I looked around, I said, You've got to be kidding. Nobody can do this. And plus, I had put my own self in in a ditch and I had no nobody to blame but myself.


[00:36:08] My church has served was fine. And so I said, All right, Lord, I will be gracious here. I'll give you one more chance. Yeah, we think, Oh, my Lord, What we what, what kind of presumption I saw on I'll serve one more church. But you know, you're going to have to do a better job in this next church. But when I went into that church, I knew I made that transition. I knew that I knew that. I knew that I had to get alone with God every day. And what I would do is literally I would walk to the church so that the farmers and ranchers would not see my car there because they'd be out earlier than I would, and they'd stop to visit. I would not only walk to the church, but I locked myself in the church and I went down into an inner room. The library was where they couldn't see the lights. I knew I had to do that to survive. If there was going to be any kind of long term ministry, I had to get it right there. I had to spend time with God. I had to be reading this word and I had to be reading classic Christian literature. I did that for two. Two years and it became a disposition. It became a way of living. And now, if those kinds of things are stripped away from me for very long, then you start to ache. You start to hurt because, you know, that's key, that's critical in this Christian life of ministry. We're always asking these key questions What are your primary means of grace? Is prayer is the word, is this whole business of relationship with others? How are those coming in on a daily basis? Those are the big rocks you get the big rocks in and the stream, the lake itself, the high natural lake stays relatively even.


[00:38:14] And God does things that you just never dreamed could or would happen. And as an old person, you get down on your knees and you say, Ah, Lord, there were some tough times here. But my heavens, what we've seen and what you've done is beyond our understanding, and you end in praise and Thanksgiving. That's how you want to end. Not not walking away, upset, angry, you know, ready to storm out, own everything you want. You ought to go on to your reward, bowing in gratitude over your staff, giving thanks to God. Hey, man. Hey, man. Thank you.