Say the words, “pond scum,” and most people can immediately conjure up an image of a country pond somewhere in rural America overtaken with a greenish layer of free-floating algae. The algae forms and dominates the pond because the pond is stagnate, void of any movement or flow of water. Consequently it becomes stale and even foul in odor.
Not unlike the country pond, believers, too can become stagnant if they stop growing and developing personally and spiritually. Their stagnation is marked by sluggishness, apathy, lethargy, lack of motivation, and subtle attitude changes. Where in the past obstacles, setbacks, and disappointments would prompt greater motivation and determination, they now only drive the temptation to give up and quit.
In contrast to the picture of the stagnant pond, we are called to be moving, fluid, flowing in our service and assignment for the Lord. In fact, Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to strip off the sins, weights, encumbrances, and hindrances that stop our forward progress. Notice that we are not just slowed down or made stagnant by sins, but by many legitimate but nonetheless limiting influences, pressures, and responsibilities.
In my blog today, I want to give you some principles for moving out of the pond scum and stagnation and back into the flow of life and ministry:
1. Crank up your devotional life like never before. Nothing will bring perspective back to your life faster than time in the Word and prayer. The devotional life is the fuel that keeps our spiritual engines running. Without a consistent quiet time we will eventually come to a dead stop.
2. Focus on a few big goals for the year. Don’t try to accomplish too much or you will entrench the sense of immobility. Bear down on a few items and direct your focus and energy on accomplishing them with excellence.
3. Forgive and release everyone who has ever hurt or offended you. Nothing slows us down like bitterness, unforgiveness, and recrimination. Frankly, nothing “they” said or did to you is worth losing your peace, joy, and spiritual vitality.
4. Do not permit yourself to think negative thoughts or speak negative words. As believers, we have to learn to police our own thought lives and our words and be quick to judge thoughts and words that are inappropriate or inconsistent with the Word of God.
5. Tell someone you are struggling and feeling stagnant and ask for their support. Often, simply taking the lid off these feelings and exposing them to someone who cares for us can make all the difference in the world.
6. Dig your heals in realizing that stagnation is not the time to make major life-changing decisions. Few believers have learned the value of mountain top decisions, but it is far better to make decisions from a position of spiritual strength rather than weakness. Most decisions made in a time of stagnation end up being bad decisions.
7. Bring balance back into your life between life, ministry, and recreation. Many believers have a superb work ethic and tend to drive and push themselves to the limit. We have to be wise and understand that there will always be something else to do. If we want to have longevity, we must learn the value of rest, relaxation, having fun, and just plain doing nothing.
8. Cut off busy-ness, unfruitful distractions, and time stealers. We all need to learn how to say “no” at times (and without guilt or condemnation). We can’t do everything and we should not do things that just waste our time, energy, or talents.
9. Develop a growth plan for personal and spiritual development. Growth comes when we plan to grow. Hang out with people who have the skills, experience, and success you would like to have. Read books in those growth areas and listen to teaching materials or attend live seminars and presentations. If we are not planning to grow then we are actually planning to stagnate.
It’s time to come out of the pond scum and into the portion of the race God has ordained for you. As you apply these principles, you will begin to sense a stirring and churning inside and movement will begin to take place. All you have to do to prevent stagnation in the future is to keep flowing, growing, and going. Believers on the move seldom succumb to the pond scum.