Troublesome Topic: Don’t Focus on Productivity but on Closeness

We are not productive if we focus solely on being productive. We are spiritually effective when we focus on our true purpose and connect with the source of true power. Jesus said, “Go ye;” He also said, “Tarry until.”

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Until we tarry, we dare not go.

Ministry is an overflow of our relationship with God, it is not something we plan for, strategize about, or work toward. Effective ministry that touches and transforms people is not likely to begin in a committee meeting, a brainstorming session, or a strategy meeting. The one kind of meeting that we can count on to produce true and effective ministry is a prayer meeting! Don’t get me wrong, ministry does take effort. We need to follow His tugging on our hearts and do what He is asking us to do. But it is a matter of proper focus. We should focus on a closer relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to do His ministering through us.

I am striving to learn to practice what I preach here. It is a challenge for me because I am a driven person; I don’t do things just to relax or for entertainment. I always have a purpose and I like to make and follow my to-do lists – interminably long to-do lists. What’s more, this Bible app has been a huge undertaking. But I keep reminding myself that, in the end, it is not about my accomplishments but about remaining close to God. I also remind myself that God can take away everything I have ever accomplished in this life if He chooses and it should not affect my relationship with Him at all. I keep asking Him to keep me focused on Him.

Take note of these words of Jesus:

John 5:19


Of himself the Son is able to do nothing except if he sees the Father doing that thing, for whatever things He does, these things the Son also does likewise.


In my own strength and of my own volition I, the Son of God, can do nothing; I am limited to doing what I see my Father already doing; whatever things He is doing, I do the same things.

John 5:30


I am unable to do anything of myself; I judge according to what I hear, and my judgment is just because I do not seek my will, but the will of the one who has sent me.


I cannot authorize myself to do anything; I judge according to the parameters I have heard from my Father, and that is why my judgment is just and right, because I’m not in it for what I want, but the desires of the one who sent me to do this task – my Father.

Like Jesus, we should constantly follow the Holy Spirit’s direction. That requires a high degree of spiritual sensitivity attained only by staying close to God.

Ministry cannot be fully effective without closeness, and closeness cannot occur without proper time connecting with God. When we focus on closeness, effective ministry just happens. A close connection to God cannot help but produce effective ministry. It is a product of who you have become, not of what you try to do. It may not look like what you thought it would; in fact, don’t expect it to take any certain shape or form. It will not be like the ministry of others around you. It will be a unique, but powerful blend of the unbridled Spirit of God working with the special person He has made you to be. It will look like no other ministry, and it will reach people as only you can. But remember, it must be a result of overflow. Don’t try to figure out how you minister best, just get closer to God and let Him direct you.

It’s not about what we do for God, but about what we allow God to do in us. When He has done what He wants to do in us, then He will be able to work through us to do what He wants in others.

Rest is the Real Deal

In our minds preparation must come first and then the “real thing” begins. We interpret this to mean that rest is the preparation, and ministry is the real thing. But no, rest is the “real thing,” ministry is a serendipity, a blessing that comes from the overflow of our closeness to God.

Jesus’ example teaches that ministry is not the real thing, rest is. When we focus on ministry to others we have misplaced our focus. A focus on ministry asks, “What can I do for others?” A focus on rest asks, “How can I get closer to the source?”

Resting in Cycles Makes Overflow Possible

As you grow closer to Him and eliminate the barriers that hinder that closeness, you will begin to hear God’s Spirit prompting you in ways you never heard before. You will find yourself doing something that you never did before, and you will know it was not you doing it but the Holy Spirit. You were ready spiritually from enjoying time with God and then He brought it all together and you felt like you were just along for the ride. You cannot take any credit for any of it. It just happened; God did it, and He happened to do it through you. This should slowly become more common. If you stay close to God and keep a humble heart, being used by the Spirit to do His work in His way will become the norm, not the exception. That is what He desires for all His followers.

A Maintenance Schedule

Just like the cars we drive, we all have a maintenance schedule. Our maintenance schedule calls for:

1.  A set time with God daily

2.  A larger chunk of time weekly

3. An even larger amount of time seasonally or yearly

Going to “church” for a couple hours one day a week is not enough (and going to church is not really being alone with God anyway). The Jews celebrated numerous festivals per year that gave them the chance to become more connected to God and to family. I call the yearly times of getting away for the purpose of enjoying time with God “deep rest.”

 How many of us ever get to “deep rest?” Honestly this is the one I find hardest to do.

The next lesson is Enter God’s Presence Through Quietness



Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, p. 106.