Smoother Sailing Article – A Self-Help Book
By Pastor Barry Black
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.” Hebrews 6.19
In every bookstore, you find all kinds of “self-help books”. There is practically everything from “learning to set personal goals”, to “how to have better relationships”, to “building a new room”, or “do your own plumbing”. I’ve never written a book, but if I ever write a “self-help book” for Christians, I believe it would definitely include the following:
1. Regularly commit yourself to the clarity of the gospel. Remember, we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The more you remind and commit yourself of that, the better equipped you will be to share the Gospel with those whom you come in contact. It will also help you when you read what others have written or listen to what they say.
2. Maintain a personal relationship and walk with the Lord day by day. If he is your Savior, then hopefully He is your best Friend. Church and private devotional times are not the only places to talk to Him. Time alone while driving or walking can be quality time to talk to Him (Ephesians 5.16; 6.18; 1 Thessalonians 5.17). Prayer does not have to be verbal; it can be silent – in the privacy of your own mind and heart. You can never pray too much or too often! Time spent in God’s word every day is time well spent. There are a number of ways to spend time in God’s word: listening to scripture on audio while driving, walking, during breaks. Use a daily reading chart – one which will help you to read or listen all the way through the Bible in a year (or less).
3. Constantly maintain your relationship with your family. Family is your greatest “natural resource”, and should be second only to your personal relationship with God but above your local church. However, your family priorities should help you to place the right priority on your local church – not hinder it, and your local church should encourage you to spend time with your family. A family should enjoy quality worship – at home AND in church.
4. Support your church with your attendance and giving. Give your time, your efforts, and give financially. It is good and fine to support other Christian ministries, if they are Biblical and are presenting the gospel clearly. However, your local church must be your first priority. There are some who have very good reasons as to why they cannot be in church. Some Christians are unable to attend worship with their fellow church members at each service due to personal illness or job responsibilities. God knows why we can’t be at church. However, as long as we have strength to breathe we should have a personal walk with the Lord. There are some who constantly come up with excuses as to why they are not in church. Remember, God knows the difference between a reason and an excuse. Even though there may be circumstances that keep you from church, you should still support your church with your prayers and giving. Your local church is your extended Christian family. Wise is the Christian who realizes that church is more about what we put into it than what we get out of it!
5. Pray for, and encourage your Pastor, your Sunday School teacher and other church leaders – they need your prayers. Although preaching, teaching, and ministering are priority, your Pastor has a life to live as well. Your Sunday school teacher and other leaders likely have many obligations. Pray for them as they carry on their family and work responsibilities. Pray for them as they study and teach and that the Lord will give them wisdom to lead and minister to you and those in your church – some church members can be quite difficult to minister to!
6. Find someone to whom you can minister every day! There are always others that need your help in some way. It may involve giving tangibly of time or work or money. It may be simply to pray for them, or pray with them about some burden in their life.
7. Thoroughly check out those whose books you read or whose ministries you listen to or watch on television. If they do not encourage the same things you read in this article, you will want to be very careful. Remember, any parachurch ministry that does not encourage you to support your local church first (in your prayers, attendance, and finances) before you support their ministry is not a biblical ministry.