I didn’t meet Jesus until I was 35. Today I am 72. My first 35 years were lived as a worldly disciple of Hugh Hefner, the last 37 as a Christ follower. There isn’t enough space or time in this medium, and really not enough words, to tell you all of the ways the “second half” of my life is better. Maybe another time.
For the first 15 years of my life as a Christian I heard others talk about having a daily, early morning “quiet time” with our Lord. Since I am not at all a ‘morning person” I resisted the advice and tried every alternative I could think of to justify my resistance. (I do know all the reasons you can’t do it!) I did make a commitment to read the Bible for at least 5 minutes every day and involved myself in a broad variety of men’s groups and activities. I was a growing follower of Jesus and a new father and husband. There was so much to learn and so many changes that I needed to make in the way I thought about things and in life in general. I grew but continued to resist the early morning commitment.
I am a reader and over the early years read the biographies of a wide variety of heroes of our faith. Heroes like George Muller, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther, Smith Wigglesworth, Watchman Nee, Hudson Taylor, and many others. I wanted to look for commonalities among them that I might learn from and adapt to my own life experience. One that jumped out but that I constantly rejected was that every single one of them testified to the blessing derived from, and their absolute need for, spending their first hour with the Lord in Bible reading, prayer, and quiet meditation. Each of them said one way or another that the practice of spending the first hour, or in some cases hours (Martin Luther said that “I spend the first hour of each day with the lord. Unless I have a very busy day planned. Then I spend two! Not what I was looking for!) was the key discipline that allowed them to walk in faithful and fruitful obedience and to grow in intimacy with the Father and the knowledge His will. I wanted those things for my life but still resisted.
Then in 1987 I was given the opportunity to become the Area Coordinator in Florida for the Fellowship of Companies for Christ, an organization that ministers to Christian business owners and CEOs. The work was definitely in my sweet spot and fit my background as an entrepreneur and chief executive. From my conversion in 1973 I had worked for most of the previous 14 years as VP of sales in a chemical business that used as the business model the question “What would this business look like, and how would we make our decisions, if Jesus Christ was the owner and Chairman of the board?” What I had experienced had led me to hope to share with others the wonder of working for God in business, I still do (am)!
One day as I was ready to launch into the work I heard God speak to me. Now don’t freak out, it wasn’t an audible voice or anything weird. God has never spoken to me audibly. He speaks in my thoughts and in impressions that are hard to describe but very real. Often He speaks to me as I read His Word and sometimes in just a still, small inner voice. We can talk about this at another time but for now just accept that I heard Him say to me; “Buck, if you want to be effective in the lives of others I want the first hour of your day.” I can’t explain how, but I knew that I knew that this was real and could be a go-no go deal.
In what I look back on as my ignorance and even arrogance I said; “OK Lord I will give it 90 days. If after 90 days I can’t see any difference I’ll give it up.” (Can you imagine giving God a 90 day performance review?) I started the next morning and I must tell you that nothing that I have ever done has had the powerful and positive effect on my life that giving God the priority in my daily life that He deserves has had.
Since that first day almost 22years ago I have missed only about three days. God has taken me through the FCCI experience to starting The C12 group, LLC in 1992 and has grown it to the national presence we now enjoy as Americas leading resource for Christian CEOs and owners. I have been used to speak and write across our country and abroad and I have taught this principle in person and in seminars to hundreds of leaders. Nothing else that I have ever done has had the influence for good or been as fruitful. There is no Christian habit or discipline that I could recommend to you more highly if you desire to grow in your faith and effectiveness as a Christian. In fact I am so bold to say that without a daily quiet time you will never be ALL that God wants you to be. It is the foundation that a successful Christian life stands on and there is nothing else that takes its place.
There are two keys to having a consistent and successful quiet time that I will give you today and flesh out in a later post.
First, commit the first hour of each day to God. Give it to Him and let Him own it. And here is KEY #1 – make it non-negotiable. The first hour of each day is His every day – period. As long as it is negotiable the devil will negotiate you out of it!
Second, Key #2, write about it! At the end of each quiet time write a letter to Him in a journal. Tell Him what you think you learned. Ask Him questions. Jot down the answers you think you hear. Tell Him thanks for your blessings and tell Him that you love Him. Tell Him anything that is on your heart. Use ordinary paper like a three ring binder. Don’t be fancy just do it.
I guarantee that if you give Him the first hour of your day every day for 90 days you will never be the same and you will never stop or struggle with it again. In fact, I have a special offer that I make to those willing to try this process that I will share with any of you who write to me and ask about it. Give it a shot! You have nothing to lose except being ordinary.