Summer of 2016 I went to my second Leadership Project, an almost 8 week event put on by Campus Outreach with the purpose of growing closer to the Lord through work, evangelism, discipleship, and community. It’s an incredible experience, one that I highly recommend you attend if you have the ability (or something similar). It’ll grow you closer to the Lord like few other things will.
During my second Project, I was a room leader, meaning I was responsible for the general direction and spiritual guidance/leadership of a handful of guys. I started with two, had five mid-way through the Project, and ended with three, so it was an eventful summer. To add to the chaos, I took an online physics class during Project so that I could graduate almost on time, since I failed an intro physics class during the spring of my senior year due to a general lack of self-discipline and a generally negative attitude towards school.
Needless to say, it was a busy summer.
In my experience and time with CO, one thing that has become very evident is CO’s excellence at discipleship, which also remains true at LP. At Project, they provide leaders for every group of people, or, at minimum, solid accountability and consistent community for all.
Part of being a room leader at LP – while being a spiritual leader myself – was being under the guidance of what is called a team leader, i.e. the next person up on the spiritual ladder of leadership. The team leader’s, in turn, are spiritually and practically accountable to the Project director of their same gender.
The team leader for me, and for the other three room leader guys on my team that summer, was a guy named Landon Tucker. I want to specifically call him out because he’s the primary man whom God used to change my heart towards the Word. And, though it’s only through God’s grace that Landon was used, I still desire to give Landon the shout out he deserves for being faithful to what the Lord called him to.
[Landon, if you read this, I know it’s been over a year and a half, and I know I’ve mentioned this to you before, and other people – probably multiple times – but thank you again. Don’t mind me calling you out one more time for your faithfulness 😃.]
As a room leader, part of my job, as I mentioned, was being primarily responsible for the hands-on discipleship and spiritual growth of my room while on Project, which, admittedly, I’m sure I failed at in many ways. That said, part of leading a room spiritually includes growing spiritually from a personal perspective as well. We, as people, can only really teach what we have experienced and been taught ourselves. In other words, I am only able to truly push others towards Jesus – or anyone or anything else – out of the overflow of my own heart and my own personal growth.
But during LP 2016, I was not where I needed to be to effectively lead other guys spiritually, and it became apparent to my fellow leaders during our weekly leadership meetings. Specifically, I wasn’t getting in the Word every day. I wasn’t saturating myself with God’s word on a regular basis, which is A) pretty much a requirement for leader’s in CO and B) it’s a necessity for spiritual growth.
And I was failing at it. And I got called out for it.
I don’t remember how it went down specifically, but I was asked at one of our D-group meetings how my personal time in the Word was, and I had to admit it wasn’t regular and it wasn’t where it needed to be.
How many of you have found yourself in this exact situation, whether with the Word or with any other discipline or general life habit that would be good for you, whether spiritually or otherwise? I imagine many of you can relate to where I found myself.
Thankfully, I had accountability. I had partners walking closely with me as we pursued the Lord together. I had fellow young men right alongside of me, walking with me, struggling with me, pushing me to be “better”, i.e. more faithful. Pushing me to obedience. Pushing me to focus less on myself and more on the Lord.
They challenged me on my lack of daily discipline in the Word. They challenged me to do it. Which was great.
But this particular meeting was not the first time I had been challenged. And, honestly, the previous challenges hadn’t really done anything of lasting value, and probably wouldn’t have done anything had everything stayed the same.
But Landon stepped in. He took the challenge to the next level. He got a little bit angry. He didn’t coddle me. He didn’t continue to gently recommend I do what I should’ve been doing.
In his personal walk with the Lord, he was in the Word every day – and I’m sure still is – and spoke out of a heart that had experienced the joy and the fruit that spending time alone with the Lord every day can bring. He spoke out of his own personal conviction and experience. He led me as the Lord had called him to do.
And it stuck.
He basically said, “Listen man, it’s unacceptable that you’re not getting in the Word every day. You can’t feed others spiritually if you aren’t feeding yourself (a pretty common phraseology amongst CO folks).”
He compared getting in the Word every day to eating.
“What happens if you don’t eat every day?”
I get hungry.
“And if that continues for a long time?”
Hmm. Good point.
That’s what happens spiritually if I don’t get in the Word every day. That’s what happens spiritually if you, the reader, don’t get in the Word every day. First you get spiritually hungry. Then you die.
Or, for those who aren’t regularly feeding yourselves with the Word, perhaps you were never spiritually alive to begin with.
I know that last sentence may sound harsh, but I want you to consider with me: What are the only words we have access to that are said to be divine revelation from the Father? The Father we claim to follow? The words of the Bible. The words “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
If we aren’t reading these words as often as we possibly can, how are we going to grow? How are we going to be fed spiritually? We won’t! We’ll die!
By God’s grace, Landon didn’t just stop at challenging me. He took it to the next logical step. He made a plan. He asked our group who would be willing to get up early with me and when. It was settled that I would get up with one of the guys in our group, Henry, at – I believe – 6:30 in the morning on a day that week, which seemed preposterously early to me at the time.
But that morning changed my life. The Lord did something in me that morning – through Landon, through Henry – that stuck. I’ve been in the Word every single dang day – save two – since then.
Who would’ve thought that’s something I could have ever said! Not me.
But it’s not something I even bat an eye at now. It’s expected.
And let me be clear that I did nothing to get my heart to this place. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I mean that. The Lord did something supernatural in me through his Spirit and through his sons.
And that’s what I want for you. I want you to be in the Word every single day with me. I want you to be fed spiritually every single day. Otherwise, we’ll die. And I don’t like the sound of that.
And might I add that morning’s are a darn good time to spend time with the Lord. To paraphrase the director of my first project, “No one wants to be around me, and I don’t want to be around myself, if I haven’t spent time with the Lord first thing in the morning.”
To finish, I want to challenge you to join me. I challenge you to go deeper.
If you’re already in the Word every day, that’s phenomenal. Keep at it. Keep being faithful. Keep seeking ways you can continue to soak up God’s word and God’s people. Push yourself further. Whatever the Lord is calling you to, whether it be prayer, scripture memory (personal growth area!), reading the Bible in a year, reading the Bible quicker than a year, etc. Whatever it takes to be faithful to what the Lord has called you to do.
If you are not in the Word every day, and you call yourself a Christian, you’ve got to get there. I think this is imperative. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. This needs to happen in your life.
Listen, I don’t know where you’re at. I don’t know how busy your life is. I don’t know if you’re actually saved or not. Only the Lord knows.
What I do know, however, is what I’ve already said: Without feeding on the Word of the Lord (think “eat my flesh and drink my blood” from John 6:53-57) we will die spiritually. I might even argue we would prove ourselves to not be his children if we cease from consuming, or never consume in the first place, his words.
Yes, prayer is incredibly important. Yes, community is super important. Yes, there are other areas of importance.
But I think this needs to be the beginning. Soaking in the Word needs to come first.
I do want to add that I’m hardly perfect. Some mornings – even this one – I struggle to get in the Word. My mind is a million other places and I just flat out don’t want to start my day in his presence.
But the Lord is good. I know he will meet me this day. I know he will draw near to me, and as a result I will to him.
If you need help, find accountability. Pray about it. Ask the Lord to change your heart. Talk to me if you want. I’d be happy to hold you accountable.
But do something. Don’t hold back. May this be the day – the moment – that your life looks different.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. | Psalm 37 4
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. | Matthew 6 33
As Paul ended his letter to the Philippians, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit.”
Written with love,