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Leadership Tools and Resources Archive

We have developed and used a number of tools and resources to help Christian leaders in various aspects of their
leadership development and growth. Feel free to download and use these materials or share them with other leaders you
know. Some of these files are PDF files that can be read and printed using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can
download you free copy here.

LEADERSHIP TOOLS

The Ministry Process Assessment.

This leadership tool will help you evaluate the comparative overall strengths of your organizationÕs ministry processes.
You will examine ministry processes in contrast to business or administration processes.

A ministry process is more than a single task. It is a collection of activities which takes one or more kinds of inputs (work,
tangible resources, etc.) and creates a result that is of value to someone. A basic ministry process is not necessarily equated
with a single program or department in the organization. These processes are often trans-departmental in their operation.
In fact, ministry processes are often "invisible" unless you look for them. Many Christian leaders have never looked at
their organizations in terms of overall or core ministry processes. Usually, consideration is limited to evaluating programs.

The following is a list of typical ministry processes:

STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT (charting the course for the organization)

TRAINING (people to do something)

TEACHING (people to know something)

MINISTRY TO INDIVIDUALS (counseling, prayer, etc.)

OUTREACH (interacting with those outside the organization)

ASSIMILATION (integrating new people into the organization)

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (identifying, recruiting, training, deploying new leaders)

An accurate estimate of the strengths and weaknesses of your primary ministry processes will give you important insights
about what would benefit most from prayer and planning as you seek to fulfill your mission.

Tip: To use this tool with your team, first, agree together on a list of processes that are critical to your church or
organization. Next, have each participant fill out one assessment on their own. Then, add everyone's scores together for
each of your processes and divide by the number of people contributing scores to determine the team's overall average
score for each process. Rank the processes from strongest to weakest. Finally, have a discussion about the results. Identify
issues that need to be addressed, things that can be fixed, added, or adapted to bring improvement. If a process is very
dysfunctional, discuss how it could be done differently.

Download a your free copy of this resource tool in PDF format read by Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The Daily Ministry Manager

The Daily Ministry Management System is a comprehensive paper-based organizational system. Many such systems are
for sale in any office supply store (some for a lot of money!)-this ones free. Plus, it is designed around the kind of work
pastors and Christian leaders do, rather than salesmen or other typically targeted business people. I designed and used this
system for years and found it to be very effective.

The Daily Ministry Management System contains:

1.
Monthly and Weekly calendar pages.
2.
A Goal and Project planning page that allows you to work through all the relevant issues pertaining to your project and
then build a list of action plans to get it done.
3.
The Weekly calendar page allows you to keep the schedule of all your appointments and activities for the week, as well
as all your calls and correspondence and to-do items. It also allows you to integrate the action plans from your Goal and
Projects into your weekly work management and tracking.
4.
A Master List page for all those things you think about, but don’t know yet what you are going to do with (but you
don’t want to forget them). Once stored here you can either: delete them (because they were stupid ideas), transfer them to
your Weekly page as To-Do or other item, or to your Goal and Project page for detailed work. Any action plans would then
be moved to the weeks when they should be done.

The Daily Ministry Management System not only manages the week and month well, but helps you to integrate your long-
range and project planning right into your day-to-day work.

What a deal!

The Meeting Manager

Our Meeting Manager is an 8 1/2 by 11 page size personal-organizer form that you can use to enhance the effectiveness of
the meetings that you run or attend. Most people find meetings to be a necessary evil, but wish they could be avoided. The
problem with meetings is usually based in poor preparation, poor documentation, and poor follow-up. This worksheet
allows you to efficiently and effectively manage these three tasks on one page. Keep multiple copies in your paper-based
notebook organizer and you will always be on top of your meetings.

The Programs and Services Analysis

You have a lot of things going on in your church or organization. Leaders and workers are in place, people are
participating, money is being spent. Here's the question: is what is going on effective? How can you tell? The Programs
and Services Analysis tool gives you a way to think about their effectiveness by evaluating them by seven different criteria.
You will build an overall picture of he relative effectiveness of your whole set of programs and services on a single page.
Several reflective questions lead you from what you have discovered to what you need to do next.

The New Ministry/Project Strategy Worksheet

Starting something new in your church or organization? Here is a step-by-step worksheet for an individual or a team to use
to build basic strategy. This tool covers the issues of team make-up, purpose or mission, demographics, programs and
services, structure, and action steps. This is also an excellent reporting tool. Start up a new team, turn them loose, and
them review what they have come up with using this worksheet.

POSITION PAPERS

Resisting the Technological Spirit of the Age

Is there a way to be "in the world but not of the world" as a Christian leader? The answer is yes, but we must think clearly
and biblically about what we do and how we do it. This paper explores the biblical basis for a proactive and strategic
approach to ministry that does not compromise our dependence on God. Several guidelines are suggested for maintaining
strategic focus and spiritual integrity.

Unveiling the Mystery of Strategic Planning In Ministry

For many Christian leaders, strategic planning is a mysterious process that somehow doesn’t fit in with the day-to-day
ways of doing ministry they have known. In truth, thinking, and therefore, acting strategically is much simpler than you
might think.

How to Turn Your Vision Into Effective Action

One of the greatest tragedies for a Christian leader is the failure to see vision translated in action and results. Many leaders
assume, after some time in ministry, that either God is not with them or their vision for ministry was a fantasy of their
imagination. Often, however, they are simply examples of unrealized potential—they do not understand the basic
processes involved in the transformation of vision into action

Resisting The Technological Spirit Of The Age

Following the Holy Spirit as a leader has always required the exercise of discernment. Paul admonished us to "test
everything [and] hold on to the good." (I Thessalonians 5:21) In every good thing that God desires for us, it is possible to
miss his leading if we are afraid to take risks or if we haven’t learned to discern the difference between the Spirit of the
Age and the voice of God.

A CONCERN FACING CHRISTIAN LEADERS

In our exuberance to see the Kingdom of God advance (or to see our ministries succeed—they are hopefully, but not
necessarily the same thing), we face a subtle temptation to join forces with what has been called the Technological Spirit of
the Age. This spirit or attitude can be seen among Christians as we come up with methods, practices or principles that we
believe will bring success, and then expect, or even demand, God to bless our efforts. This attitude is completely contrary
to our Biblical commitment to humble dependence on God for His leading and provision in all of our life and ministry. We
are vulnerable to this temptation because our fallen nature attempts to gain control of everything, even God.

When Christian leaders are caught up in this attitude, they become enamored with those aspects of their ministry that can
function as substitutes for the power and presence of God. Any aspect of ministry, from the polishing of musical ability to
enhance worship to training classes in evangelism, can become methods we rely on to produce the results we’re after. One
of the dangers that I see in the use of strategic planning is that we can succumb to the temptation to make our plans and
produce our own vision, without ever realizing that God’s presence is not among us.

There are a number of perfectly proper and helpful skills and methods which we have seen other people use to enhance
ministry and advance the Kingdom. Many leaders, gifted with wisdom from God, have inspired and trained us to do the
work of the ministry. It is not that it is wrong to follow someone’s example or to learn from the successes of others. All
followers tend to look and act like the ones they from whom they have learned. The difficulty comes when the once proper
and helpful practice becomes a substitute for the still, small voice of God. Over the years, many of us have seen others, or
ourselves, attempt to "make it happen" by (sometimes desperately) employing any method we thought might do as much
for us as it has for someone else.

It is not just in the area of planning that we can fall prey to relying on our own strength. There are other areas where this
same problem can be an issue; using church growth principles (studying what removes the hindrances to the growth of the
church), marketing and advertising (researching demographics, employing communication techniques to make people
aware of your presence), salesmanship (bringing people to the point of decision), fundraising and financial management
(actively raising and administrating money), and the use of computer technology to manage information. Whatever benefit
is derived from the proper use of skills and methods will be lost if we are putting our faith in these methods. Even if our
hearts are committed to only seeking God’s will, we must be on guard against relying on any process or plan instead of on
the sovereign will and power of God.

If there is such inherent danger in any method, why should we make use of any planning tool? I believe that the wisdom of
planning has been demonstrated by wise leaders in our own movement, and that getting good advice about practical
ministry matters (how to get something done) is a well-documented Biblical practice. An example of that is the exchange
between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses seemed on the verge of becoming a Biblical case study on the effects of
burn-out when Jethro approached him with a practical solution. Jethro’s wise counsel enabled Moses to accomplish what
God had put in his heart.

However, we must be careful about using Jethro’s counsel (or anyone else’s for that matter). No one’s counsel must ever
substitute for God’s counsel. Neither must the counsel contradict God’s word. It must not lead us away from what God has
already told us to be or to do.

HOW TO KEEP FROM FALLING PREY TO THE TECHNOLOGICAL SPIRIT OF THIS AGE

Here are four guidelines to help us to "test everything [and to] hold on to the good." (I Thessalonians 5:21)

1. Appreciate the different Biblical models for fulfilling a God-given mission.

God doesn’t limit himself to doing things in only one way. Philip (in the New Testament) and Nehemiah (in the Old
Testament) illustrate how differently God can work to lead us in the mission he gives to us.
Philip’s mission was to evangelize Ethiopia. The way the Lord led him was to send an angel with specific instructions.
Obeying those instructions led Philip into a divine encounter with an official of the Ehthiopian court whom God had
prepared to hear Philip’s message. The effect was an explosion of the Gospel in Ethiopia.

Nehemiah’s mission was to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem. The way the Lord led Nehemiah appears to be
drastically different from his dealings with Philip. Rather than an angelic visitor with orders from on high, Nehemiah got
bad news from one of his brothers who had just returned from Judah. The source of the message was actually God, and the
effect was that Nehemiah burned with the conviction that he must restore Jerusalem as the dwelling place for God’s temple
and his people. With the passion from God, there also followed a systematic plan to discover what needed to happen, who
was responsible for what, and how he would manage the whole process to completion.

What is the point for us? We are not dealing with an either/or issue- either God speaks or we come up with ideas on our
own. If God speaks to us a detailed plan, we must follow his words exactly, without adding or deleting to suit our desires.
If God gives direction without specifics, we must prayerfully think about how we will proceed and develop well-thought-
out plans. One way that God leads is not more spiritual than the other. The same God who said "apart from me you can do
nothing" also said "a man does not build a tower without first calculating the cost." It is just that our plans must not
become the end - we must be always ready to hear God speak and be ready to make course corrections at his direction.

2. Maintain a consistent and genuine prayer life.

Intimacy with God keeps His voice strong in our ears. We are most vulnerable to other voices when we are estranged
from Him. Prayer keeps us in touch with our absolutely dependent position on God for everything in our lives and
ministry. When we lose touch with this, we will quickly take control again. The humility of a prayerful heart will help
keep our old nature in its place - on the cross.

3. Never confuse the job of "following the pillar of fire" with the Lord’s job of "moving the pillar of fire."

Even though Moses was at the head of the great crowd of people exiting Egypt, it was God who was supernaturally
leading them. We do well to remember that we are servants going where we are sent; we are not masters of our destiny.
When he says to go, we are to seek him for how we are going to there, and make wise plans.

4. Always see the plan as a means, not an end.

Plans represent our best effort at identifying the next steps we need to take in following God. Plans need to be held in
open hands. God may want to redirect us at any point as he did with Paul when Paul abandoned his plans to go into Asia
Minor and instead went to Macedonia. Plans are not to be confused with God’s will for our lives. They are only our
response to the revelation of God’s will for our lives and ministries.

CONCLUSION

We need to become adept and effective in developing strategic ministry plans so that we can obey the calling and vision
that God puts in our hearts as leaders. But as we commit ourselves to wise planning, we must not risk losing the precious
presence and leading of God by relying on any person or plan.

Let us never become faithless, so that we deserve the warning God gave Israel in Deuteronomy 8:17,18 "You may say to
yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God,
for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers,
as it is today."

UNVEILING THE MYSTERY OF STRATEGIC PLANNING IN MINISTRY

I remember as a young pastor feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of planning. I had heard respected leaders emphasize
the priority of having a plan for ministry. Somehow, I just couldn’t seem to get past the "Ought to" of planning to the
"How to." Strategic plans, 5-Year Plans, and the like had a strange, mysterious quality to them. I knew that many
successful and effective leaders had plans, and they seemed to accomplish their goals. What was it that they did to come up
with these wonderful plans? Did God lead them up on a mountain somewhere and dictate the plan to them? Were they just
smarter than I was? I began to wonder if there were basic principles to this "planning thing" that somehow they had
discovered, and that maybe I could learn too?
For anyone who has ever felt as I did, strategic planning doesn’t have to be a mystery. Once I identified the basic elements
involved in developing a strategic plan, I found it much easier to get a handle on the planning process, and to work with it
as an integrated part of my role as a leader.

All strategic planning processes, whether formal or informal, are a discovery process, and will in some degree contain the
following 5 elements.

Element 1: VISION

Vision is infinitely more powerful than leaders may realize. Vision pulls us toward the future with an image of what that
future could look like. It is where we believe God has told us to go and what He wants us to build. Vision given by God
offers us a compelling reason for the sacrifice and effort needed to accomplish something significant.

I recently read the results of two different studies of unsuccessful church plants. In both of those studies the number one
reason given for the failure of the new church to take root and grow was the leader’s lack of clear vision.

Element 2: VALUES

Values are primary sources of motivation in the ministry of a Christian organization. Values drive us and empower us for
action. Priorities and activities that do not reflect these values are easily procrastinated, compromised, and even
abandoned.

When thinking through a long-range plan, it is important to be able to identify what is important. Values are a primary
element in the culture of an organization. Those who join a group not only need to know where the group is going, but
what the journey is going to be like.

Element 3: THE PRESENT

Every determined step toward the future, no matter how bright the future appears, must always begin upon the ground of
the present. Where you are now will determine what needs to happen next to get where you want to go.

The book of Proverbs addresses the need for accurate information. "Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool
exposes his folly." And, "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."
(Proverbs 13:16; 14:8)

Jesus addressed the same issue: "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost
to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it
will ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or suppose a king is about to go to war
against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one
coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:28-31)

Element 4: MISSION

Mission defines the focus of the organization’s activity and use of resources. While vision concerns what a leader is
ultimately seeking to build in the organization, mission is more concerned with the actual activities of the group in the
immediate and short-range future.

If a leader is not convinced about what the focus of the ministry is to be right now, it is possible to be sidetracked into all
sorts of "good ideas" that will come along. If the goal is to be strategic, the only "good ideas" are those things that will
move the organization toward the vision.

Element 5: STRATEGY

Clarity in a leader’s thinking about vision, values, mission and the present will make it possible to develop, a careful,
comprehensive plan. The plan will consist of the priority goals for the organization, time-lines for completion of the
actions, and action-assignments so that accountability is established.

Strategic planning isn’t mysterious, neither is it beyond the capacity of all but the most gifted leaders. Planning is just
knowing how to ask the right questions, then how to get the right answers.
Our planning programs, training programs, planning toolkits and free leadership tools are designed to help you work with
these elements in an efficient and effective way. Our goal has been to be clear and simple without compromising the depth
and quality of the planning process you need.

Custom-designed Team-based Strategic Planning Programs

For churches, Christian organizations, and other organizations, we offer on-site help with the process of developing long-
range ministry and organizational strategies. This is a completely modular, flexible approach that can be custom-fit to any
organization or ministry.

When should you consider bringing in an outside consultant to work with your team?

1. When you realize that you are seriously underutilizing your resources and opportunities for ministry, and yet are not
sure how to move ahead.
2. When you and your key leaders find that you are able to talk all around the issues facing you, but are unable to
translate your great ideas into effective action with results.
3. When you have basic core stability in your organization (no major crises brewing to distract everyone from thinking
about the future)-this is important. Strategic planning is not what your church or organization needs if it is tottering on the
brink. Other interventions would be helpful at that point to help your leadership team and the members of the organization
come to terms with each other and the crisis at hand. However, if you have at least core stability in place, then you are
ready to aggressively move ahead together toward the vision God has given you.
4. In other words, if you have unrealized potential and you want to see it unleashed in the most time and cost efficient
manner possible.

What does a planning program involve?

While each organization will have its own unique needs and requirements, the following elements are typically included:

Pre-work A pre-session assessment will be completed by the planning team members prior to the session. This allows
everyone to give initial input about the issues and concerns they see facing the organization in the near-future and
develops basic measurements of overall organizational strengths and weakness to be addressed by the planning team. The
team’s pre-work inputs are synthesized into a comprehensive report for use in the planning sessions.

Planning Sessions This is usually a two-day planning session with the core leaders of the organization. In these meetings
the team will be lead through a comprehensive discover process to explore the critical issues involved in moving from
where they now are to where they want to be in the future. The following elements are usually included:

* Pre-work discussion and conclusions


* Values and the organizations ideal culture
* Long-range vision
* Mission or purpose definition
* SFSWOT analysis (Successes, Failures, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
* Goal prioritization
* Action plan development
* Implementation system (insuring that what gets planned gets done!)

How to Turn Your Vision Into Effective Action

Focused planning is a pressing need in Christian organizations today. As a church planter and a pastor I found that
planning coupled with disciplined action often seemed beyond reach. The press of daily demands, unexpected crises and
volatile situations kept me so consumed with running the ministry that there was little time or thought given to planning.
One of my greatest frustrations in ministry has been seeing so little of my vision translated into effective action.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that effectiveness in strategic thinking and planning are critical to success in
ministry and life. Strategic effectiveness is achieved by setting the right long-term priorities and implementing them. A
Christian organization produces strategic effectiveness when it directly and forcefully implements prioritized goals in its
operations.

So how does the leader of a Christian organization develop the kind of strategic capabilities needed to lead the enterprise
to greater effectiveness and success? In this column we will address various skills and principles that will help you to work
through the priority issues which are foundational to the development of an effective and comprehensive ministry strategy
for your organization.

What is Strategic Planning?

There are many esoteric or long-winded definitions for the term strategic planning. Most Christian leaders, however, are
neither esoteric nor long-winded. Consequently, these definitions are frequently less than helpful. To be useful, strategic
planning must be a clear and simple process. Becoming skilled at the practice of strategic planning requires that the
concept be easily grasped.

Here is a definition of strategic planning we are using:

Strategic Planning Is The Process of Determining The Long-range Vision


of An Organization And How To Fulfill It.

Although this definition is simple in terms of grammar and vocabulary, it is not simplistic. Packed into these few words
are powerful concepts and insights into a process that can transform your organization.

* It is an ongoing process, a way of life, rather than an "event."


* Strategic planning should be a continual activity in a growing entity. Unfortunately, it is often treated like an event
that, once completed, no longer serves a relevant role in the ongoing operations of the organization.
* This process determines what happens in the organization; it is proactive.
* Planning, not circumstances should drive the organization, yet this is often not the case. Good planning not only
keeps you on track, but it also enables you to be ready to respond to unexpected opportunities that present themselves.
* The energies and resources of the ministry are clearly focused on a target: your vision.
* It is risky and ill-advised to define specific organizational goals without first determining where you want the
enterprise to end up. By vision, we mean the overarching, all-encompassing sense of identity and direction of the
organization.
* Goals are the strategic opportunities at hand for the organization.
* When addressed by the organization, these opportunities will leverage the organization’s resources to achieve desired
ministry and financial results.
* It is an intensely practical and pragmatic process of action, which fulfills your goals.
* The "how to fulfill" part of the plan is often overlooked by planners. It is assumed that this will be addressed later or
by someone else. Such an assumption usually translates into "nobody" ever gets around to doing "anything" with the plan.
Strategic planning should lead you all the way to effective implementation.

We have designed planning tools that allow you to reproduce what we would do if we came into your church or
organization and worked with your team. They provide step-by-step guidance through the powerful planning process we
have described here.

We also provide custom designed planning programs which we will lead with your leadership team on-site.

Power Needed to Balance (June 1999)

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala is a must read book. The book has reinforced several things we have been
teaching about being a Biblically balanced ministry. Proverbs teaches, "The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord
directs his way" (Proverbs 16:9). The balance in this verse is that it challenges us to "plan" and trust God for the His
leading. Another way of thinking about this balance is to realize the balance between planning and prayer. Brooklyn
Tabernacle (the church which this book is about) is demonstration of the power of prayer to transform lives. The following
thoughts are reflections stimulated or reinforced by Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.

First, remember that planning without prayer neglects the greatest source of power for the accomplishment of anything to
the glory of God. One of the principles we have been teaching is that the ultimate goal of strategies in ministry is to glorify
God. Sincere prayer is a channel which the Holy Spirit uses to empower us toward His glory. The book of Acts
demonstrates to us that each time there was a mighty moving of the Spirit it was during a time of concentrated prayer.

Prayer is an expression and acknowledgment of weakness. Jim Cymbala states, "I discovered an astonishing truth: God is
attracted to weakness. He can't resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him. Our
weakness, in fact, makes room for His power."1 Any planning that begins with a sense of one's own strength or that of a
church is doomed to be man centered. God loves to demonstrate His power through our weaknesses. The reason is simple,
"that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Secondly, we need to always make prayer the first, continual and last part of planning. Prayer meeting has become the
least attractive service and is all but dismissed as if it were for a bygone age. Cymbala speaks of a turning point, "From
this day on the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens [at prayer meeting] will be the gauge by
which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure of by which God blesses us."2 The mistake is often
made of measuring success by how well our plan is executed rather then what God does by His power for His plan and
glory.

Thirdly, let me speak to my fellow preachers. Prayer is more important then our preaching. The grace of God has been
demonstrated many times with great blessing and then there have been those other times in my almost thirty years of
ministry. I can remember many of those times of great blessing and behind it was a praying church and prayer worriers.
Cymbala challenges us by asking "Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, 'My house shall be called
a house of preaching?"3 And, he follows that question with "I have seen God do more in people's lives during ten minutes
of real prayer than in ten of my messages."4 We need to humble ourselves before God and realize God is more concerned
about our prayer life then he is our preaching.

When prayer is the first priority the preaching will be anointed with power. Acts 6:4 gives the order, "we will give
ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word."

The church today needs to be sensitive to what God is using to build His Church. A danger in understanding our culture
and ministry effectiveness is we can be diverted form the real source of power. Cymbala mentions three diversions: "The
Lure of Novelty, The Lure of Marketing, and The Lure of Doctrine Without Power."5 His points are well made and should
be considered in trying to be Biblically Balanced in ministry and life. God certainly can and does use strategic planning
but these tools can never replace the power that only comes through prayer. Let us keep the balance by keeping the most
important things most important, particularly prayer.

One additional reminder is given "It takes more than academic rigor to win the world for Christ. Correct doctrine alone
won't do it."6 People are looking for something authentic to happen in their lives. The greatest power source we have to
change peoples lives is God Himself. One might say but "the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two
- edged sword..." This is certainly true but, remember "the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God."
The Holy Spirit is our dependency, not our ability to weald the sword.

"We should make plans—counting on God to direct us" (Proverbs 16:9 The Living Bible [paraphrased]). A balanced
ministry is a ministry that recognizes the importance of planning and the priority of prayer. One without the other results
in imbalance. We should plan but the power for ministry is prayer.

Keeping Two-Way Communication Between You & God

FYI:

As we walk in the Spirit, we remain in constant touch with our heavenly Father, apprising him of both big and small
decisions!

Just as the instrument pilot flying through the fog is dependent on two-way communication with the radar controller, so
the Christian needs to converse with God and hear his voice regularly. As in life, when an emergency arises or while
facing numerous decisions preparatory to landing, the pilot maintains constant radio contact, both parties talking and
listening.

God’s children likewise need to hear from him through the Bible, and He wants you to talk to him in prayer. There is no
possible way a Christian can “walk in the control of the Spirit” until he develops that two-way communication with God.

The first half: The Word

Of the two methods of communication, the more important involves daily reading of the Word of God. Though I am aware
that some “prayer warriors” will challenge me, I am convinced that it is more important for us to hear from God than for
God to hear from us. Certainly we are not going to tell him anything he doesn’t know, but reading his Word regularly will
flood the searchlight of his truth upon the pathway of life along which we walk.

It is impossible for a man to walk in the control of the Holy Spirit unless he knows God’s will, which is communicated to
us through the Scriptures. Men and women who do not read and study the Bible regularly are just kidding themselves if
they think they are walking in the Spirit. They are so uninformed about the Word of God that they don’t even realize when
they are disobedient to him. To find his will, we must read it daily.

The San Diego Chargers football players who attended our weekly Bible study encouraged me to write a book to help them
read and study the Bible for themselves. I developed a simple program to make this quiet time highly practical and helpful
and to guide them into other studies.

One night during a Chargers’ Bible study on the two natures in the heart of the Christian, one of the players asked,
“Which nature, the self-serving or the God-serving, will control my life?”

Before I had time to answer, the safety on the team perceptively replied, “The one you feed the most!”

It could not have been stated better. Just as you must eat right to build up your body, so you must nourish the inner man
with spiritual sustenance. That is why Peter declared, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may
grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). That kind of spiritual growth will help you overcome your weaknesses and walk in the Spirit.

The second half: Prayer

The other half of communication necessary to walk in the Spirit is prayer. No facet of your life can be exempt from prayer.
The apostle Paul instructed us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That is, communicate with God as you move
through every experience of life.

This is an excellent habit to develop, for it makes you sensitive to his leading. Whenever I fly only by instruments I am in
constant touch with the radar controller. My radios are on and I am alert to his slightest command.

The Spirit-controlled life is like that. As we walk in the Spirit, we remain in constant touch with our heavenly Father,
apprising him of both big and small decisions.

Some Christians only talk to the heavenly Father when faced with “big decisions.” Not me! I take literally the proverbial
words, “In all your ways acknowledge him” (Proverbs 3:6).

I like to check with Him on everything. Just the other day I was hurriedly packing to get to the airport on time to get to a
seminar, and I was missing a whole set of my overhead transparencies for one of my messages. After looking frantically
for ten minutes, I paused and asked the Lord to help. Within two minutes I found them (where I doubt I would have ever
looked) and was on board the airplane just before they closed the door.

Planning to fly:

A good pilot does not wait until he is confronted with a perilous situation to start making decisions. The secret to good
instrument flying is planning.

The same is true in life. Plan ahead, check your decisions by the Bible just as a pilot checks his flying charts, and then
discuss them in prayer with the heavenly Father far enough in advance so that you will not have to act under the pressure
of emergencies.

Too many Christians stagger from crisis to crisis, most of which could have been avoided by steadfast reading of God’s
Word and by prayer. That two-way communication is essential to walking in the Spirit!