Titus' Milestones To Maturity, Part 3
Here are some assists in burning hot and long with godly zeal:
- Time with Jesus. Spending time alone with Jesus results in a myriad of good things, including an impartation of his zeal. I come away from my times with God burning with his authority, love, and zeal. He is the ultimate stoker of zeal and in fact, without regular time with him we run the risk of developing zeal for the job, zeal without knowledge, or other equally dangerous counterfeits of the real zeal.
- Get hold of "the faith" for yourself. Paul says we are to each get our own grip on the faith (1 Timothy 3:9). Make sure you believe what you believe with a clear conscience, both about doctrine and the mission of your church.
- Allow hardship, setbacks, and suffering to develop your own conviction and zeal. Relentless zeal is produced through tough times. See them through, and the hardships will stoke the fires of zeal. Seasons of frustratingly slow church growth have always made me dig deep into God, purify my motives, and reaffirm my zeal for the advance of God's kingdom.
- Keep taking risks. Continuously stepping out of your comfort zone and staying on the faith-stretch keeps the adrenaline levels high, but more importantly, allows you to keep seeing God in action—feel the zeal, baby! So don't take your cloak or wallet with you; let God arise. The taking of risks is not much in vogue in our "health and safety" paranoid culture, and this is one of Satan's most cunning plans to castrate true leadership. Leadership presupposes forward motion, not just managing the status quo. Here's the math: no risk taking, no forward motion.
- Avoid dead works like the plague. Dead works are "doing the stuff" because we have to, and it is "what us Christians have to do." Yuk. These are works void of love and faith, and they will profit you nothing, others little, and are an offense to God. Also, you won't get any rewards for them! A pastor of another church attended Godfirst for six weeks to see what he could learn. At the end he said to me, "I have never seen such a generous and hardworking church, but in the last six weeks I haven't heard you tell anyone to do anything. How does that work?" I talked him through the difference between God-fueled living and dead-works-fueled living.
- Think on the cloud of witnesses. In preparation for a trip to the USA, I've been reading American history. I read about General Patton who, as a young soldier in World War I, was paralyzed with fear during a brutal skirmish with the enemy. Cowering behind cover, he got a vision of the long line of military ancestors watching him from above. Stirred by his heritage, he jumped to his feet and led the charge shouting at the top of his voice, "It is time for another Patton to die!" We are watched by a cloud of zealots (Hebrews 12); let's get out there and lead another charge!