“Against the flesh, the traitor within, a warrior uses discipline. We have a two-dimensional version of this now, which we call a ‘quiet time.’ But most [people] have a hard time sustaining any sort of devotional life because it has no vital connection to recovering and protecting their strength; it feels about as important as flossing.
“But if you saw your life as a great battle and you knew you needed time with God for your very survival, you would do it.” ~ John Eldredge
I’ve been doing a quiet time* pretty much every day since I was 16. I’ve got stacks as tall as I am of journals and Bible study notebooks I have filled. The Bibles I’ve used over the years each look like a graffiti war zone of ink colors and highlighters and notes in the margins. I’ve got a bookcase full of study tools (now made irrelevant by the internet), and files full of study methods, prayer methods, journal methods. I’m all about the methods. I’ve even published books on methods for studying specific parts of the Bible.
For the most part, this daily practice has been good for me. As far as it goes.
But it doesn’t go far enough. In fact, it never really has.
This is especially true if you’re a faith leader.
To be a leader for the Kingdom of Heaven, you need your daily time with God to amount to more than a warm fuzzy, or a list of Scriptures to memorize. You need to actually meet with the real Jesus. You need to reconnect to what is most deeply true about Him, about you, and about the life you’re living. You need to receive power. You need be refreshed. You need to get strategic direction for the day ahead. And you need all of it to be real.
When I first start working with a faith leader, one of the first things we do is upgrade his or her daily practice with God. Out goes the traditional “quiet time.” We replace it with what I call a Personal Strategy Session…a souped up version of a quiet time that includes these 5 elements:
1. Actively step into the Truth of who you are, who God is, and the mission you are called to fulfill today. This often takes the form of a personal manifesto, which I work with the leader to create. It’s unique to each leader, and is based on their unique identity in Christ, their specific calling, and the key truths upon which they especially need to stand. They declare this out loud each day.
2. Pray aloud a Daily Prayer for your life and leadership. I have included several examples of what these can be in my ebook Leading Wide Awake. You can get a copy here.
3. Do your Bible Study and devotional reading. This part holds what we traditionally think of as a “quiet time.”
4. Journal. I encourage leaders to practice journaling in a very specific way ~ by really listening to their heart and simply writing down what it is saying, without any editing, and without holding anything back. And then invite God to speak to it. Why do this? Because Proverbs 4:23.
5. Look at your schedule for the day ahead and prayerfully ask three questions:
- Is there anything in my schedule today that God wants me to change or talk with me about?
- How will I step more fully into my mission today?
- God, what else?
This entire process generally takes about an hour. It is best done in the morning before the day begins, or as the last thing at night before you go to bed. It is an essential daily practice for leaders to take possession of the territory to which God has called them.
At least, that’s what I believe.
How ’bout you?
*For my friends who aren’t fluent in Christianese, “quiet time” refers to the daily habit of spending time alone focused on God, and the practices (such as Bible reading and study, prayer, and journaling) that are typically associated with that time.