This morning I read through Luke 5 and was immediately struck by verses 12-16, describing Jesus’ ministry:
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Did you see that? Jesus’ fame had spread to the point that great crowds gathered to hear him and be healed by him…BUT he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
I dare say that the majority of pastors would love to have the “problem” of great crowds gathering at their church. In fact, most of us spend our entire ministries trying to get great crowds to come and hear us preach. After all, that is the American version of “success” in church life. We celebrate and come dangerously close to worshipping pastors of large churches with large buildings and large budgets. And in the deep dark corners of our souls we desperately want to be that pastor that is celebrated/worshipped.
But, Jesus left the crowds, retreated to a desolate place and prayed. In the very moments when Jesus could have capitalized on his “success” he walked away from it often to spend time with his heavenly Father. The reason is clear…intimacy with our heavenly Father is success. There is absolutely nothing more important, in the life of a pastor, than stepping away from the busyness of ministry so that we can spend intimate time with our heavenly Father.
This was a great reminder for me on this Monday morning: An empty well is of no value to people longing for a drink. We are emptied in the busyness of ministry but filled in times of intimacy with our heavenly Father. Our people need us to step away so that ministry does not kill our intimacy!