I was recently reading Ezekiel 3:1-4, part of Ezekiel's call by God. God told Ezekiel to "eat this scroll I am giving you, and fill your stomach with it" (v.3). This was an instruction to Ezekiel before he was instructed to go speak God's Word to the people. This is a challenge to all who would be called to minister and preach to others. We do not preach our own thoughts or ideas, but we preach God's Word to His people and to call others into His fold.
I am not perfect in my devotional times, and I know from talking with other pastors and church leaders that devotional times are a struggle for many of us to keep. Some of us wrap our devotions into the ministries we are doing, which is partially what these verses are challenging us to do. Through our own feeding upon the Word of God should flow the teaching and instruction we are to give to those we are called to lead. It is from our time feeding in the Word that we can pass on God's message to others.
I fear that many in ministry and leadership fail to feed consistently upon the Word of God. Instead we live in a day when so many other ministers notes and sermons are freely given through electronic medium that we do not spend the time seeking God in prayer and deep feeding. I am not saying we should never use another minister's guidance, because there are some pastors who do this and are deeply growing in their own ministry and life.
The greater problem I see is more of a lazy approach to our devotional lives. I speak with others who often have no clue on Saturday evening what God wants them to say on Sunday morning. I know it can be hard to prepare week in and week out, but the reality is we should be able to speak out of what God is telling us through our daily lives. Maybe instead of spending so much time reading about others journey's in faith, we need to rekindle our own spiritual lives in God's Word. I know reading others journey's, blogs, or teaching is good for us too. However, it doesn't take away from good time spent reading and meditating on what God has for us and our lives.
Several years ago I was in a meeting,. with our then District Superintendent Dr. Ray Barnwell. He told the group that there should never be a reason to fear having a message. He suggested preaching through books of the Bible or segments of Scripture, so we would always be prepared for the coming week of feeding the flock. This is great advice for having direction. Yet, it still comes down to the question of feeding on that word for our own lives, so that we can then bless others with God's teaching. He will often teach us far more than we will ever be able to put into one sermon.
In thinking about this, I realized that a mother bird feeds herself well with the food she finds. Then and only then does she fly back to take food to her young chicks in need of food. If we are not caring for our own spiritual growth, and our own deep relationship with God how can we lead others to a deep place with Him?
Feed well in the depths of His Word on a regular basis, so that you may carry on the work He calls you to in Him.
-Blessings for the journey.