The pressure was on. I was urgently preparing for an important teaching session when the unimaginable happened! Just as I was about to submit material for printing, my laptop died! After a bit of initial panic, I double-checked my power cord and realized that there was no real connection. In my haste, I had not properly seated the plug. Unknown to me, the laptop had been running on battery the whole day! Somehow I had missed all the warning signals, and as one might expect, my laptop eventually died.
As I reflected on this, I began to see a parallel all too common in the lives of church leaders. When the pressure is on and there is a lot to do, in the very time we need to be intimately connected to God and depending upon His Spirit, we as Christian leaders tend to cut back on quality time with God and end up “running on battery.” Sadly, what usually starts out as a temporary measure often becomes a dangerous habit. Before long, we find ourselves operating in our own strength and wisdom, and not in God’s. Warning signals come; but somehow we ignore or miss them. And then one day, often suddenly, something goes wrong. The battery dies.
Years ago I was struck by an insightful statement about the life of Jesus.
The news about Jesus was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:15-16, NASB)
Jesus experienced the type of ministry success most leaders only dream about – large crowds, major miracles, and great popularity. He also faced huge amounts of external pressure, so much so that He and His disciples even struggled to eat. Yet, in the midst of all of this, Jesus maintained one practice that serves as a vital example to us all. He regularly slipped away to a quiet place to connect with His Father. Undoubtedly, it is this special practice that kept His battery charged.
Times apart with the Father feature prominently in the life of Jesus. Out of these special encounters came amazing statements and actions.
Jesus said, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19, NASB)
Later on, He stated, For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. (John 12:49, NASB)
Jesus’ ministry overflowed out of a life of intimacy with His Father.
Readers may rightly point out that Jesus enjoyed continual communion with the Father, that He was actually plugged in all the time. This I will not contest. However, the Gospels make it very clear that Jesus habitually slipped away to connect with the Father. It seems He did not automatically know the Father’s will or operate in the Spirit’s power. Though He is the Son of God, Jesus was truly human; and, as the perfect human, and the Head of the Church, He offered an important model for us to follow!
Take an honest look at your own life and ministry. How connected are you? It is not enough to look like you are connected. The plug must really be in the socket, and the power must be flowing. This requires intention and attention. You have to want to do it, and then you have to do it!
To live a life that truly honors and glorifies God, we need to operate in His will and supernatural enablement. To run on full power, we must remain spiritually charged. Superficial quiet times or quick prayers are not enough. Learn from my laptop charger! We must connect in such a way that the power flows. Like Jesus, make time to connect! Don’t be caught with a dead battery!