Back to the Basics
Back to the Basics
As we round the corner from summer into fall, vacations are behind us and school is back in session. It’s time to get back to the basics.
My father, who spent most of his life working bi-vocationally – as a supervisor in construction projects and also pastoring – was a master at reminding me of what was most important.
One of the ways my father taught was through the repetition of important truths, in the form of his favorite sayings. Each “dad-ism” subtly reinforced to me the basics of life:
Always tell the truth, and you will never have to remember what you said.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Your word is your bond.
Always clean up your own mess.
Strangers are friends you don’t know yet, so be kind to everyone.
Remember where you came from.
Remember who you are.
My dad also brought me back to the basics through our daily interactions.
Every afternoon, I would listen carefully for my father’s car to come into the driveway and then immediately run to the front steps. There, he would sit down and hand me his metal, rounded lunchbox in which I always discovered a surprise – a cookie or a Twinkie. As daddy removed his boots and I ate my surprise, we talked.
My father spent time with me every day, taking advantage of every teachable moment. I asked my dad about his day, and he asked me about mine. What had I been thinking about? What had I learned? I could say anything, and it was okay.
When I grew up, got married, had children and moved to another state, my dad would call every Saturday morning. As I answered the phone, he never said “hello.” He would say, “Pull up a chair, and let’s have a cup of coffee.” My father died in 1984, and I still miss that Saturday call.
My father wanted to prepare me for life; he wanted to influence and mold my heart, my character, and my thinking. So he spent time with me.
Jesus and His Father
Jesus spent time in preparation with His Father, too. There are numerous examples throughout Scripture.
In the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus was in solitude for a month-and-a-half. As His ministry began, He was alone much of the time, spending the entire night in solitude and prayer before serving the needs of His disciples and hearers the following day. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing by himself.” In John 7:16, Jesus said, “My teaching is not my own.” In the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26), Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow, so He spent the night talking to His Father about it. Jesus was also in close connection with His Father through the memorization of Scripture (Luke 4:4).
Jesus led from a heart that was filled up with Scripture and prepared through an intimate relationship with His Father through prayer and solitude. In all the hurried schedule and intense pressures He faced, Jesus never neglected the basics.
As Jesus modeled, our preparation for all of life is found in our relationship to our Heavenly Father. We were never meant to live life alone. John 15:5 reminds us, “Abide with me, apart from me you can do nothing.”
The Father helps us keep first things first. He takes us back to the basics.
6 Gifts from the Father
Like the hidden treasure in my daddy’s lunchbox, there are six gifts we uncover in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17b-18
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”1John 1:9
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” Psalm 32:8
“I have called you by name and you are mine. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Isaiah 43:1
The Basic Plan
While you may not have had the kinds of experiences I had with my Father, you can certainly enjoy loving encounters with our Heavenly Father. But it won’t happen automatically.
If we truly desire time with the Father, we must be intentional in carving out that alone time. We can’t neglect the basics.
In order to be prepared to lead like Jesus, to have relationships and results, why not try these four basics for the next 30 days?
- Set a time to meet with God. Be consistent, turn off your cell phone. Say no to things that crowd your schedule for this time. Block out all other distractions
- Bring an open heart.
- Bring your Bible.
- Be still. This is the hardest part. We have a tendency to want to do all the talking. Prayer and solitude is two-way communication. Enjoy His presence. The one thing we absolutely need is the one thing we can never lose. His presence.
Henri Nouwen said that discipline means “the effort to create some space in which God can act.” The time is now! We need God to act. It is time to pray, to communicate with our Father, to listen for His voice, to study Scripture and to learn from Him.
I believe God is saying to us today as He said in Scripture, “Come by yourselves to a quiet place; abide with me and let my words abide in you.” (Mark 6:31).
Do it for your family, do it for your business, and do it for your church, for your community and our nation. When we abide with the Father, we can truly lead like Jesus.