5 Themes Amongst Cross-Cultural Workers – Theme #1: Not Taking Spiritual Vitality and Growth Seriously Enough

Amongst those in vocational ministry there is a consistent theme of being under grown in spiritual depth for the vocation before them. True, we are never adequate in ourselves for what is before us. But is our growth trajectory one of steady deepening or spotty ups and downs?

How would you describe your intimacy with the Father now compared to 5 years ago?

Are you receiving more from God than you are giving out over the big picture of life?

Do you have a spirituality that is adequate for your calling – your private life and your professional expression?

Too may of us are running on our own energies. We are starved. Famished. Malnourished spiritually.

This is not sustainable.

How do we get here?

One lie that drives this is that with so many needs around us it is selfish to tend to ourselves. So we over extend in work to our own demise – spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally.

Another lie has to do with our sense of identity. The danger is to find our identity in what we do for others and how others in turn perceive us. We can be doing very important work, essential work, and be fueling a false identity all at the same time.

These lies and our responses to them get us into deep trouble. The weariness within is deep.

I have also found another fundamental issue at hand. We don’t know how to walk deeper with God. No one has modeled it for us, guided us, provided some mentoring and direction. So we feel stuck.

Let’s break each of these down.

Undoing the Lies

Jesus did nothing, nothing, apart from the Father’s presence and directive (see John 5:19, 30; 14:10, 31). So what was the Father’s pattern with his Son while he was on earth?

Jesus was the first and only one who could solve every need he ever came across. He met many of those needs. Thousands were taught, fed and healed. And yet, and yet…he did not meet all needs.

He deliberately walked away from some in need. As a man he could only be in one place at one time. He had his limits. He tired. He hungered. He often went to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16) which clearly means he left people with their needs unmet (Luke 5:15).

How often is often? We are not told, but it was often enough to warrant Luke to mention the clear pattern early in Jesus’ ministry. The other gospel writers also refer to his seeking solitude. Read through the Gospels and note how often Jesus is away from others praying. Start with Luke, then head over to Mark.

This is our model. Jesus has not asked us to do his work for him. He has invited us to join him in his ongoing ministry to the Father. Jesus’ ministry has a very clear pattern to it. He wants to teach us that pattern.

We live life with Jesus. In relationship. In communion. Communing relationship requires time – time alone with one another. Daily time alone (word, prayer, reflection). Weekly time (Sabbath). Monthly time (day of prayer/solitude), Annual time (retreats, vacation) and beyond (sabbatical).


This leads us into the other lie regarding our identity.

Wherever you are in life, whatever work you are doing, the Father’s greatest desire is for you is to know his love for you. Not just get more stuff done.

God is not a pharaoh. And we are not his minions scurrying around building his kingdom for him. He does not need us to build his kingdom.

God is Father. He has made us his daughters and sons. As stated above, we join Jesus in his ongoing ministry. But first, we must learn his love. For all we do is an overflow of his life and love from within us.

Note Jesus in John 5 -“The Son can do nothing on his own accord. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he is doing.”

As it was for Jesus, so it is for us now. In John 15 Jesus directs us to abide in him, in his word and in his love.

Our identity is not in what we do or what others think of us. It is what our Father has to say about us. It is a life-long journey to grow in receiving the Father’s love, to learn to drink deep draughts of the Father’s love.

The lies are broken as we learn from Jesus his easy, light way (Matthew 11:25-30). It will include seeking solitude with the Father that we may grow in his love and learn Jesus’ pattern of sacrificial service. This takes time away from all that we are otherwise doing.


Mentors, spiritual directors, pastors, counselors, and guides are essential to walking well with God and others. Ask God for these ones in your life. They are there. Don’t stop looking and asking until you have a handful of them in your life to learn from.

Take Away

I recently heard it said that if one doesn’t take sabbath and solitude seriously, there can be no progress spiritually.

Where has the Spirit been drawing you in your relationship with him?

Where do you desire most to grow?

How would you describe the state of your spiritual vibrancy?

Who can come alongside you?

This entry was posted in Living Wisely, Personal Vitality, Spiritual Vitality, The Shepherd's Health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 5 Themes Amongst Cross-Cultural Workers – Theme #1: Not Taking Spiritual Vitality and Growth Seriously Enough

  1. timothys5 says:

    Thank you, Scott. This is thought-provoking. I have a couple of questions.

    You wrote, “It is a life long journey to grow in receiving the Father’s love, to learn to drink deep draughts of the Father’s love.” How does one receive the Father’s love, and how does one know when this is truly happening?
    For years I’ve prayed that I would know the love of Christ that surpasses comprehension, but I am not sure it is happening.
    How does one find a spiritual mentor old enough to understand where I am in life? I am 71 and have walked with the LORD for about 50 years. I’d like to find someone besides my wife to share deeply with, but have found it hard to find someone I could trust.


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