Cultivating the Work of the Inner Life – Tim Keller

Tim Keller brilliantly explains the necessity of a Christian leader (Pastor) to cultivate the inner life:

“All the causes of either visible or pending failure stem from a failure to cultivate the inner life. Look at the list of the causes of fruitlessness. They are the results of failing to know ourselves, failing to believe the gospel, and forgetting the truth of God’s word. Thus, we must cultivate the work of the inner life.

It’s important to begin by saying that often ministry failures can be traced to a lack of true calling to the ministry–which is a subject for another article. Apart from that foundational flaw, however, most ministry failure stems from a neglect of the inner life and communion with God. Secondary problems, such as a minister’s insufficient training or misguided approach, usually do not become full-fledged failures unless they are accompanied with–and thus magnified many times over–by failures of inner life and character.

So while it may create problems if a young minister imposes an inappropriate model on a church, it probably won’t be disastrous unless he begins to interpret opposition as a threat to his identity of a successful minister, in which case he would respond with insecurity and drive people out needlessly.

Christian leadership is mobilizing God’s gifts to accomplish God’s goals in God’s way. Leadership involves developing our strengths in order to articulate the vision, persuade people to follow, and keep them all working together.

We must beware of identifying with our ministry and making it an extension of ourselves. Until we see this, we may be successful in the short term but may begin to see the telltale signs of fruitlessness: cowardice, hypocrisy, indulgence. We are clashing our cymbals, and the results are the noise of hurt feelings, a critical spirit, consuming anxiety, and persistent joylessness in our work.

As we have seen, engaging in Christian ministry will make you a much better person or a much worse person than you would have been otherwise. You will not remain static; you will be growing and changing. And thus, the question of “How am I doing?” does not have to be a pestering plumb line but can serve as a personal reminder to pursue godliness, cultivate fruitfulness, work diligently, trust completely, and preach confidently.”

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