Introduction: I am an incurable God lover and a bi-vocational pastor. This means that unlike many pastors, I get to daily rub shoulders with unbelievers in my secular employment. I am happily married to the most beautiful woman that God ever created, and I am the father of two of the most precious children that God ever knit in a woman’s womb.
With that being said, I am very familiar with the distractions the enemy can send towards believers who are on the front lines of contending for the faith (Jude 3). Whether you are working in a church or are ministering to people some other way, you will inevitably face nasty and wicked opposition. It is at that point that you must know how to respond in order to avoid reflecting the very behaviors that the opposers are dishing out at you. In other words, you must keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, His gospel, and remind yourself what your biblical ministry focus is, no matter what kind of work you are doing for the Lord. You will have many distracters. Satan is happy to send a hundred fools your way to keep you busy and distracted instead of getting being busy doing the work of the Kingdom by teaching and edifying those who will listen. You have to let the Sanballat and Tobias’ of the world do their thing while you continue to do the Great Commission and edify the body of Christ. Just like Nehemiah said in response to Sanballat and Geshem’s message in chapter 6:3, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”
You have to realize that because your own personal time and energy is limited, you must seek to serve the Lord efficiently – i.e., “making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). I do this in some of the following ways:
- Spend plenty of time in prayer. Schedule times away from the busyness of the world to get out in God’s creation and decompress a little bit (i.e., a family farm, a park, the mountains, etc.). This gives you time to reflect upon the goodness and grace of the Almighty and also teaches you how to think deeply upon the things of the Lord and allows you to petition Him without undue distractions such as e-mails from atheists and heretics. Ninety-nine percent of the time you spend responding to a heretic should really be spent in prayer and meditation upon the attributes of God as revealed in His written word.
- Read the experimental works of the Puritans. In other words, read the people who drank deeply from the well of God’s truth and learned how to apply that truth to their daily lives. Many people wonder how the Puritans produced such a huge volume of literature without computers in such a short period of time. The answer is because they weren’t distracted by the misinformation superhighway, blog wars, Jesus junk, ESPN, and other vain idols. They also knew what their biblical responsibilities were both in the community and in the family because they were usually sitting under solid Biblical teaching.
- Aggressively limit your internet time. This includes answering and sending e-mails and writing blog articles. Learn how to write in such a way that you say the same thing by using fewer words. Obviously, there are times when you need to be more detailed. Different people have different time constraints and different ministry venues that warrant more detailed word. Nevertheless, if you’re spending more time messing around with your computer than you are with your family, you will eventually put yourself in a situation where you will be sinning against God and your family because you are neglecting to develop the normal and necessary social interaction with them and most importantly, you are not using that interaction time as a means to teach them about the things of God in accordance with Ephesians 6:4 and Deuteronomy 6:7!
- Make sure you are attending a church that is feeding you the word. We should not be getting our primary spiritual feeding from radio preachers and bible teachers. That is not the God-ordained method of building up the Body of Christ. I can’t mutually minister to the staff of Grace to You (as great as that ministry is). My advice is that if you can’t find a doctrinally healthy and well-balanced church then you should seek to plant a church or move where one is located. It’s better to be equipped and serve Jesus the rest of your days than starve and become frustrated and discouraged in your walk with Christ because you lack the necessary body life (cf. Eph. 4:11-15).
Let me give you an idea of how I sinned against my family fighting heretics and the precious repentance that God granted me in that process:
- 2001 – 1st miscarriage the week of 9-11 (9-16-01) – I essentially neglected my wife with the excuse that I wanted to do apologetics and evangelism by wrangling with atheists, cultists, and other heretics.
- 2002 – 2nd miscarriage (9-13-02) – I was pursuing my first pastorate at this point and it was a tough spiritual battle due to the unregenerate in the church kicking against the truth and I was so busy fighting them that I didn’t minister to my wife appropriately.
- 2004 – 1st child born in February.
I learned my lesson in January 2006 after having a public debate with an atheist in late 2005 and realizing that since 2001, I had essentially forsaken my family and used the gospel as an excuse to do it. I knew that God would never ask me to break one command to keep another and so I immediately repented of my sins.
- 2007 – Jan (1 miscarriage), July (twins miscarried).
- 2008 – 2nd child born July 1st!
There is no question that it is absolutely necessary to expose false teaching in order to protect the body of Christ (Jude 3; Titus 1:9). Sometimes we grow weary in well doing; especially when it seems like we’re the only ones who are warning people against false teaching while the evangelical ship is sinking into apostasy like it’s on a greased pole. But, we must stay encouraged knowing that there are seven-thousand who have not yet bowed the knee to Ba’al and we must remember that we are not the only ones who see the lies, the deception, and the “strong delusion” that God has sent to many people (2 Thess. 2:11). Keeping away from the many hindrances and distractions that come our way will go a long way towards helping us spend the much needed time encouraging other brothers and sisters who need a well of water in a dry and weary land that has a famine of the word of God.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.