A few weeks ago, I ate a bunch of grapes and when I had eaten them all, something grabbed my attention. The empty vine that I held was so tightly intertwined, I’m surprised I was able to free any grapes to enjoy! A very familiar scripture passage popped into my mind:
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit…”
I didn’t think much about the empty grapevine after that evening, but this morning, I was again reminded of the same scripture. You see, I was out running errands but came across some beautiful plants that I thought would be perfect to plant in the planters on my front porch. I couldn’t wait to get home and plant them in the lackluster planters.
As I cleared out what was left of the mums I had planted months earlier, I notice that while the branches broke off easily, pulling the root out of the planters was a bit of a struggle. Again, the above scripture came to mind. The passage continues:
“Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers…”
Staying connected to God (the Vine) is a vital element of a growing relationship with God. So often, those of us in ministry work in the name of the Lord without realizing that we might not be spending adequate time in the Word and the presence of our Savior.
At our staff meeting that same week, our Senior Pastor encouraged us to stay connected to the Vine by incorporating the following into our regular spiritual practices:
The First 30: We were encouraged to find a quiet place (the Sanctuary, the Worship Center, the prayer chapel or our office) and spend the first 30 minutes of our day with the Lord before we jump into our work. When he suggested this, I realized that even though I work in a church, I rarely sit in the prayer chapel or Sanctuary to pray or read my Bible. This was a great suggestion.
Attending staff prayer: Three times a week, our entire staff gathers for 30 minutes to pray. The time isn’t required but it’s highly encouraged. It’s a time to take a break and connect with each other about personal and ministry needs.
Retreat Day: The last thing that our Pastor encouraged was for us to take a personal retreat day monthly, quarterly or a few times a year. The retreat day should include time for solitude, prayer, Bible reading and just sitting in the presence of God.
During Holy Week, I was able to take a few days away to for prayer, planning, reading and studying. While the time included some distractions (ugh!), I was able to read some of George Barna’s The Power of Team Leadership as well as think through a volunteer orientation program I’d like to re-launch this fall. My time in the Word was extra special because my Mom wrote a devotional for me to use each day. You can download the devotional here and use it in your own quiet time.
I am so thankful for a leader who not only cares about the ministries we lead but also cares for us personally.
Whether you lead a ministry, lead children as a volunteer or lead your family, it is important – or rather imperative – that you stay connected to the Vine.
What does this look like in your life? How do you stay connected to the Vine while leading a busy life?