By Dennis Wiggs

When you first enter the ministry, you are overwhelmed with responsibilities— teaching a Sunday School class, preaching three or four times a week, visiting, counseling and more.

Besides ministry challenges, you want to devote time to your wife and children. The lawn must be mowed, the vehicle tuned up. Every day is full of demands that require time and energy. You go to bed at night exhausted, remembering those jobs you did not get to. Your daily Bible study must not fall victim to a busy schedule!

Most Important Responsibility

Daily devotions. Quiet time. Prayer and Bible study. Whatever you call it, a daily spiritual exercise is essential. Nothing must squeeze out your personal, vital time of reading the Word of God and praying.

Make an Appointment

Decide the best time to observe your quiet time. Determine where you should meet the Lord. Establish a schedule. Develop a method. This will demand trial and error. Your enemy will attack from all directions to rob you of a personal relationship with God.

Early in the Morning

Note in scripture how many spiritual leaders rose early to accomplish God’s will. Before the family rises, in the quietness of the den or kitchen, meeting the Lord can be a precious time of basking in His love. Or arrive at the office early to enjoy a period of solitude. Determine the best time for you and stick to it.

Not Sermon Preparation

Exercise self-discipline and feed your own soul first. Yes, I know, a preacher reading a passage of scripture can excite his thoughts to begin preparing a sermon. Resist that temptation. Your spiritual battery must first be recharged.

Search the scriptures for personal benefit and apply the Word of God to your own life. How that special passage speaks to you could be written in a notebook.

Use a “Think” Pad

As you read Scripture, thoughts of other responsibilities enter your mind. Refuse to ponder those items. Simply and quickly write down those thoughts on your think pad. Keep reading. Don’t allow those thoughts to detour you from the your study. When you finish, organize the items you have written as needed.

Establish Guidelines

Where to read? Follow a prescribed guideline of profitable Bible reading. Each December, determine where you will read the next year. Whether you ponder the Pentateuch or explore the epistles, you should cover the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation each year or two.

Some believers read the Psalm that correspond to a particular day or read the 31 chapters of Proverbs each month. Other devote an entire year to the gospels or several months to reading the prophets.

Reading for Special Seasons

The month before Easter, read Matthew 2l-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, and John I 7-2 l. Challenge your people to do the same.

The month before Christmas, read the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke. Your congregation could profit by reading these chapters several times before Christmas Day.

Mark Your Bible?

Some preachers refuse to mark their Bible with a pen. Others mark almost every verse. Underlining verses with a colored marker that does not bleed through the pages may be beneficial. Excessive writing or marking may be to those you want to win to Christ.

They might be more interested in your written words and method of underscoring than the verses you want them to read. Use the same color of pen. Allow this marking of verses to benefit you when you read those verses again.

Memorize Scripture

Develop a regular method of memorizing God’s Word early in your ministry. Write verses on cards. Stick them to your dashboard for continued review. Of course, systematic Bible reading will help you to place God’s Word in your heart and mind.

Develop a Method

Don’t let today go by before determining a beneficial, Bible reading program. A hit and miss method will rob you of daily, spiritual blessings that can be yours by systematically reading the most important book in the world.

Keep a written record of the scriptures you have read and when you have read them. Note the things you learn in a journal or notebook If anyone should read the Scriptures with continued, greater understanding and spiritual profit, it should be a pastor!

About the Writer: Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.

Adapted from Contact magazine, August 1997.