When the new year hits I inevitably assess the previous year and determine what major changes I want to make. I am not sure why I do this, but I know that I am not alone, whole industries exist built upon the turning of a new year. Regardless of why I do it, I just know that I’ll take a look at my health, my family, and my walk with God and determine what adjustments I need to make. When it comes to the family, I try to be intentional about what we will do each year. The bulk of this planning generally comes from great ideas my wife has. When it comes to my health, I’ll try and eat better for a while, pick up a new diet (that will eventually fail), or start a workout routine that lasts about as long as the diet. But when it comes to my walk with God, my goal is generally the same each year: press further into engaging with His word to accomplish His work. Sometimes that looks like a major initiative in ministry, sometimes it’s a simple personal tweak to my disciplemaking strategy. No matter what the next step is, I want to make sure it succeeds and lasts far longer than the diet and fitness stuff (although I’d love for those to last as well)!
One thing I have discovered about planning to succeed when engaging God’s Word is that it always has an impact. I have never regretted investing in my walk with the Lord. Not even once. But just like other habits in our life, this must be cultivated. So how can we plan for success when it comes to engaging God’s Word? Here are four ways:
[bctt tweet=”I have never regretted investing in my walk with the Lord. Not even once. But just like other habits in our life, this must be cultivated. ” username=”ChrisSwain73″]
Honestly Evaluate Your Spiritual Maturity
One of the problems I have observed in my life and the lives of others when it comes to disengaging with God’s Word is a lack of understanding one’s spiritual maturity. When a seasoned Pastor challenges you to read through the Bible in a year, his intention is sound, but we must consider the reality that this may not be the best first step. Developing a consistent reading habit can be very difficult for anyone, and being a Christ-follower doesn’t change the fact that many struggle to pick up and read anything, much less engage with that content. Start by looking at your spiritual life and honestly assessing where you are. This may require repentance, it may require humility, but until you know where you are, taking the next step will be a major challenge.
Pick a Plan that Challenges without Overwhelming
Once you have a firm grasp of your current spiritual maturity level choose a Bible reading plan that will challenge you without overwhelming you. Too often believers go all out in pursuit of Christ only to burn out and screech to a halt. I have observed this in serving, leading, giving, and especially in being consistent with engaging God’s Word. Biting off more than you can chew will result in either, 1. Reading to check off a box so you accomplish the goal or, 2. Quitting when you get far enough behind. Find a plan that gives you time to digest the Word and apply it to your life, even reading the same chapter every day for a week if needed. Maybe focusing on a single verse each day for a week could be a great strategy for some. The goal is to create a consistent habit of reading and applying, not talking the largest amount of the Scripture possible.
Build in Accountability
We often talk about accountability at Replicate. We do so because we feel that it is so lacking in typical church life. We have built and facilitated church models that lend themselves to the easiest, fastest, and most efficient way to move people through programs and events. This allows little room for accountability beyond attendance. While this biblical accountability should be present in all areas of the life of a believer, it is essential in engaging God’s Word. You need at least one person but a few people would be optimal, who can hold you accountable to applying the Word to your life. This practice is virtually absent in typical church life and yet it is so needed. You won’t be consistent long without it.
Adjust as Needed
I may be the only one, but I often find that it is easy to give up and quit when you get behind in reading God’s Word. And if I’m not reading it, I’m probably not applying it. The number one way I combat this is by making adjustments along the way. So you blew it and haven’t read for a couple of weeks? Start right where you left off. Move on, don’t let busyness and life issues keep you from the engaging with the life-giving Word of God! Some adjusting will be necessary. Perhaps you selected a plan that was not sustainable, change plans. Perhaps those you asked to hold you accountable didn’t. Find some more consistent leaders for the task. Whatever the challenge is, adjust as needed so you can ensure you are planning for success and success isn’t checking boxes because you read some, it’s putting what you’ve read into practice in your daily life.
Engaging God’s Word is vital for your life as a disciple of Jesus. Making a plan to succeed in that engagement will help you stick to it, and the more you build this habit into your life, the more you will grow to know that you need it. So evaluate, make a plan, get accountable, and adjust as you engage with the living Word of God.