Pay Attention to Yourselves

On Thursday of this week CrossPoint hosted the St. Clair Baptist Association’s Pastor’s Appreciation Luncheon. My assistant, Tina Wiles, asked me to share a devotional thought at the end of the luncheon. While praying through what to say, the Lord gave me this devotional thought.

I provide this devotion for you for two reasons. One, I provide it so you may glean some insight from it for your self. Two, I provide it to let you in on what pastors deal with and face in leading their flocks.

For those of you who are members of another church other than CrossPoint, take the time today to drop your pastor a note of gratitude. You may even want to give him a copy of this devotional. If you do, include a gift certificate in it. Your encouragement will go a long way in ministering to him.

To all the CrossPointers who read this blog, let me thank you for the many ways you encourage me and your busy staff every week. It is a privilege to serve such a choice church.

The following is my devotion I shared with the pastors of the St. Clair Baptist Association.

Pay Attention to Yourselves

Men, we pastors live incredibly busy lives. Our time is dominated by meetings, appointments, schedules, agendas, outlines, sermons, criticisms, complaints, arguments, opportunities and so much more.

We must do something to help ourselves. I know that concept may sound foreign to you, but we must pay attention to ourselves, our health, our mental and spiritual wellbeing or we will be no good to God or to God’s people.

Paul communicated this concept of “paying attention to yourself” when he addressed the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:28. Paul instructed them:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Pastors, we know you pay attention to your flock, yet today I want to indulge you to pay attention to yourself.

The Lord has given me five tools to help me pay attention myself. I share these tools with you, hoping the Lord will use one or two or all five of them in your on life.

Tool #1: Pastor, pay attention to your self by WAITING.

I call this first tool waiting, because if I called it praying or studying you might associate it with praying for your flock or studying for your message. Instead, I call it waiting, because this discipline has nothing to do with your flock, and everything to do with you.

God wants us to wait for Him. The Bible says that so often. Two passages about waiting on God come to my mind this morning:

Isaiah 40:31 says,
…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 46:10 declares,
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

We pastors do not have too many people to minister to us. We are often the ones to do the ministering. Occasionally, someone will thoughtfully and unexpectedly find a way to minister to us. Yet, rarely do we have people consciously ministering to us. So, where do we turn for ministry? We should turn to God, by waiting on Him, allowing Him to minister to us.

Allow me to ask you a very personal and pointed question: when was the last time you waited on God your Father long enough for Him to minister to you?You do know He wants to minister to us daily. I do not know when you wait on God, but I implore you now to practice waiting on Him daily. You will be amazed how waiting on God will help you pay attention to yourself.

Tool #2: Pastor, pay attention to your self by EXERCISING.

The Bible says something about exercising.

1 Tim 4:8 says, “…bodily training is of some value…”

As the shepherd of God’s flock you must find a way to remain physically fit. Whether it is running or walking or cycling or swimming or playing tennis or basketball or racquetball, you must find a way to exercise to keep your body fit.
What good are you to God and to God’s people, if you are sick, frail or unfit physically to produce under the extremes of ministry?

I personally like to run. Running clears my thinking. Running helps me remain fit. I like to run because it helps me sweat. I like to sweat, because it helps me forget.

Men pay attention to your self by exercising.

Tool #3: Pastor, pay attention to your self by READING.

Surely by now in your ministry you have realized to be an effective and productive pastor, you must be a continual, lifelong learner. One of the best ways to continue to learn is by reading.

I pay attention to myself by reading. I read to learn. I read to grow.

If a man or woman is willing to spend a year or two researching a particular subject and then produce their knowledge in a book form, then I am willing to give them $10, 20 or 30 to learn from their experience.

There are some great books on the market you can read each week. Some of the books I have read or am reading or are my list to read include:

George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots by David Palmer
The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus
The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven J. Lawson
The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges
God is the Gospel by John Piper

I have found reading as a great way of paying attention to myself.

Tool #4 Pastor, pay attention to your self by FELLOWSHIPING.

Early in my ministry I was interested in growing, leading and developing a church. Today I am still interested in those areas of church ministry, but now fellowshipping is rising closer to the top of my priority list.

I believe fellowshipping with other believers both inside our church and outside our church is an important way for pastor to pay attention to himself.

Last Tuesday night I ate supper with six men in my church I am personally developing. I love these men. I love spending time with them. They add joy to my life. They encourage me, and I trust I encourage them. They encourage one another, also. They talk about how much better they know each other because we have fellowshipped with one another so much over the last several months.

Pastor, find someone you fellowship with and fellowship with them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Eat with them. Pray with them.

Tool #5: Pastor, pay attention to your self by RESTING.

Like so many of you, I keep an incredibly busy schedule. Last weekend my schedule included extensive yard work in both my mother’s yard and my yard. The weekend also included a funeral on Friday afternoon, a football game on Friday night, and a wedding on Saturday evening. This weekend does not look much better.

I have found, that in order to pay attention to myself, I must rest. Resting is not necessarily sleeping. Besides, many times one can sleep and never rest. Resting, instead, is taking a Sabbath.

My Sabbath day is Friday. As you well know, Sunday is not a Sabbath day for pastors. So, I take Friday to be my day off. I reserve Friday as a time for me to rest. Sometimes I rest by playing golf. Other times I rest by doing nothing for a few hours.

I do not know what you do to rest. Whatever it is, I encourage you to practice resting each week.

How do you pay attention to yourself? I do it by waiting, exercising, reading, fellowship and resting. Whatever it is you do to pay attention to yourself, please keep doing it because we need you. And, if you are not paying attention to yourself, then I beg you start doing so today.

In review, on this day we honor you as pastors, I remind you of these words from the Apostle Paul:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Acts 20:28


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