Acts 20:28 (ESV) Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
I am one full year into my church planting journey. May 23, 2010 we opened the doors of City on a Hill Church to our city. We have seen miracles, signs, and wonders and God has added daily to our numbers those who are being saved. Glory to God. This has by far been the greatest year of my life. I have literally been living out my divine calling. I know being a pastor is what I was made to do. By God’s grace I do what I love and love what I do. But there have been many pitfalls along the way. This has also been by far the toughest year of ministry in my life. I have had more spiritual battles and personal struggles consistently than anytime before in my life and faith journey.
Acts 20:28 speaks deeply to me. The first five words ring loud in my ears and light up brightly like a neon sign. PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO YOURSELVES (Caps meant). Starting this journey I knew this would be absolutely critical. I knew I would face spiritual and personal battles like never before. I picked a fight with a huge giant and I took the to the field of battle. I could not and would not have seen all that I have had the privilege of seeing without paying careful attention to myself. I knew I needed accountability on every level: spiritual, personal, professional, mental, and physical. I knew i needed to check myself before I wrecked myself. So many start off strong and never finish. Others get started like a house of fire and fizzle out and fade away.
The first way I learned to check myself before I wrecked myself was in personal devotions. I purchased Beth Moore’s series 90 days with Jesus, 90 days with David, 90 days with Paul, and 90 days with John to keep my personal devotional life on track with prayer, Bible study, and journaling. I knew I had to be personally deeply connected to my Savior Jesus. The next thing I did was to form a Trustee Board for spiritual authority and financial integrity in ministry. Three things destroy men regularly Money, Sex, and Power. Having a Board of Trustees allowed me to operate under spiritual authority and financial integrity. I had no desire to be sovereign. Only God is sovereign. I hope you young leaders are listening out there. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Having this covering gave me even more freedom to live out my divine calling. A few months later I formed and started attending Men’s Small Group every Wednesday to be surrounded by men of God who would pray, serve, love, support, rebuke, correct, and inspire me. They challenge me to live to a higher standard of holiness. Through that group I got connected with three others brothers in a Discipleship Essentials group not to serve as a leader and pastor rather to go on a faith journey to discover my faith in a world full of choices and to get to know God in a deeper way galvinizing what I believe concerning my faith and doctrine. We better know what we believe and why we believe it. We must check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.
I also keep connected with several very close brothers across the country who can help me check myself before I wreck myself by speaking into my life and giving me outside spiritual insight and Godly wisdom. Men who pray for me daily and ask hard questions when necessary. I also pay close attention to my stress level by working out. God has blessed me with a faithful workout partner Pedro who keeps me motivated and challenges me to by accountable to my health. I still struggle greatly in the area of diet but I am committed to ultimate victory. It is the thorn in my side. But I will not quit. I will keep watch and check myself before I wreck myself.
Why am I saying all of this today in this blog? Because of what is at stake. Look at the rest of our verse for today. It teaches us to watch over ourselves so we can watch over God’s flock and fulfill our God- ordained God empowered purpose in life. If I don’t check myself I will wreck myself. How can I keep watch over my flock if I don’t not keep watch over myself? God has entrusted to us be overseers over His precious Church, a Church that has been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Whether we are in charge of one sheep or hundreds we are instructed to keep watch over ourselves and over the flock that the Holy Spirit has entrusted to our care. Our flocks are in our homes, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, church buildings, everywhere God has sent us as missionaries. If we don’t check ourselves we will wreck ourselves and God’s flock can be scattered and left as prey for wild beasts. If you don’t believe me check out Ezekiel 34. These leaders/shepherds didn’t check themselves and they wrecked themselves.
Ezekiel 34:1-6 (ESV) 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2″Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 ou eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
As I was praying and fasting and seeking God for my future from January to March of 2010 God was birthing a vision in my heart for those precious sheep who had been scattered by religious leaders who didn’t check themselves and wrecked themselves leaving hundreds if not thousands of sheep scattered throughout our city as prey for wild beasts. I knew then I must keep careful watch over myself so I sought accountability. I didn’t wait to be invited into accountable relationships I sought them out. I encourage you to do the same. I didn’t wait to be invited into a discipleship group I sought one out. I encourage you to do the same. I didn’t wait to get invited to be a part of a band of brothers I sought men of God out. I encourage men and women to do the same. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. However, I lose that right when I don’t keep careful watch over myself. If I don’t check myself I wreck myself and I can not effectively keep watch over God’s flock.
Hear my words today I pray. Keep watch over yourselves. Seek Jesus daily, seek accountability, seek discipleship, seek fellowship, and seek God’s divine calling for your life. God has an amazing journey with your name written on it. You were made for this adventure. Keep careful watch over yourselves so that you can live the life God has called you to live and accomplish the mission and vision God has called you too. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Be encouraged!