In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John Maxwell starts with the Law of the Lid. It basically states that your leadership ability determines your leadership effectiveness. There’s a lid on your ability to be an effective leader. The good news is that it’s based on your abilities. Every one of us have unique abilities, and we are able to increase our abilities thereby increasing our effectiveness. The problem most people face is that we get stuck in our ways and become complacent with our level of effectiveness. The choice is up to us to do the work, enroll in classes, read and spend the time and effort it takes to raise our lid. When we do, it exponentially increases our effectiveness.
There’s a spiritual law that works the same way. Our spiritual disciplines determine our spiritual effectiveness. There’s a lid on our ability to be effective Christians. Just like the other lid, it can be raised but it takes efforts on our part. In both of his books to Timothy, Paul was writing to him to help him increase his level of effectiveness. We know 1 Timothy 4:12 where Paul tells him not to let anyone despise his youth, but to instead be an example to all. He was reminding him that age has nothing to do with his ability to be effective. It had everything to do with how we utilized his spiritual gifts and attended to his spiritual disciplines.
2 Timothy 1:6 says, “I’m writing to encourage you to fan into a flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you when I laid my hands upon you” (TPT). There are things we must do to keep the spiritual gifts we’ve been given active and effective. We must fan them, add fuel to them and rekindle them. Our daily spiritual disciplines will do that. When we add fuel to our fire by increasing our knowledge and understanding of Scripture we increase our effectiveness. When we increase our time in prayer, we increase our ability to hear God. When we increase our study and meditation of God’s Word, our lives increase exponentially. If we want to be more effective as believers, we must raise our lid through spiritual disciplines.
Ever since I was young, I have loved building fires. I remember when I was taught how to build one. They taught me that there are three things needed: fuel, oxygen and heat. To start it, you have to have some tinder, which is tiny sticks. As they get consumed by the fire, you have to add in pieces that are a little bit bigger called kindling. When the fire gets large, you add in the big pieces of firewood referred to as fuel. Before starting a fire though, you need to make sure you have plenty to get it going and to keep it going. If you start it and have to run around looking for any of these, it will burn out. A fire has to be constantly fed if you want to keep it burning.
Fire has been used in the Bible as a symbol of God’s presence. He’s known as an all consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). When Elijah called the people back to repentance, he called fire down from heaven and it consumed the sacrifice (1 Kings 18). When Israel left Egypt, the Shekinah Glory of God led them through the desert as a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). In the New Testament, God sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of those who believe on Jesus. In the Upper Room, to signify this, there was a flame above each believer (Acts 2:3) telling them that the presence of God now lived in them. You and I have that same fiery presence of God living in us, consuming us. Just like a real fire, there is fuel we can add to keep it burning strong in us.
1 John 2:24 says, “So you must be sure to keep the message burning in your hearts; that is, the message of life you heard from the beginning. If you do, you will always be living in close fellowship with the Son and with the Father” (TPT). In Revelation 2, Jesus was upset with the Church at Ephesus because they left their first love, and He threatened to remove their fire from its place of influence unless they repented. We need to keep the flame burning in our hearts by keeping God’s Word fresh in our lives and keeping our love for Him strong. In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to fan the flame within you (2 Timothy 1:6). Return to the message of God that ignited your love for Him and keep it burning strong. We are called to be light in this dark world (Matthew 5:16) and it needs us the light of God in our lives to see.