Advice to a Fledgling Minister
I’ve noticed that many people who begin in ministry do not stay in ministry long-term. If you had a young person from your church who had just finished Bible school and just accepted their first staff ministry position (at your church or somewhere else), what would be three things you would tell them that you think would help them continue in ministry for the long-haul?
Pastor Gerald Brooks – Plano, TX
1. Find mentors—you don’t have time to learn everything yourself.
2. Remember what’s at stake—this isn’t about a job; this is about souls.
3. Never turn back; Jesus was clear—once you set your hand to the plow, don’t turn back.
Pastor Jerry Weinzierl – Sterling Heights, MI
1. Keep your ‘vertical’ relationship with God at an intimate level. The ‘horizontal’ ministry of God through you to others MUST have intimacy with Him as a consistent foundation (read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald).
2. If you allow your success to define you, then you MUST allow your failure(s) to do the same. SO, only allow what God says about you to define your value (obviously easier said than done!). The words from the Father for His Son, ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,” were spoken before Jesus had done anything ministerially.
3. Make time for fun time. Don’t preach a balanced life and then not live one.
Pastor Terry Scheel – Fenton, MO
I continue to pastor the church I pioneered in 1994. The three things I would tell a young minister to assist them in staying in the ministry long term are:
1. Don’t quit.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other ministers or other churches.
3. Don’t take personally, your church member’s apathy for God.
Pastor Jim Overbaugh – Missoula, MT
1. Know that God is Faithful. So be true to your calling and never quit believing in it.
2. Understand that ministry and growth in God take time and patience—lots of patience.
3. Get in faith about everything; stay there and keep yourself in the Love of God.
Hope this helps.
Pastor Duane Hanson – Saint Paul, MN
I didn’t have to ponder this question very long before I thought of the three most important things that I would advise any young minister to focus on if they want to continue in the ministry for the long-haul.
First, I’d advise them to stay focused on the Great Commandment. Without a genuine love for God and His people, it would be very difficult to maintain a good attitude in the ministry. The god-kind-of-love gives us the ability to overcome all the opportunities to be hurt or offended by the people the Lord has entrusted to our ministry. Obviously we need to have a “love for the lost,” but I can’t recall being hurt by anyone in that category! Anyone who has been in the ministry for any length of time knows how painful it is to have members of the Body of Christ, people that you’ve poured your life into, turn and do things that make you question why you’re in the ministry. However, being established in the “love walk” will always keep us moving forward, and seeing life and ministry from His perspective, not ours.
Second, I’d encourage them to stay humble. Pride always seems to sneak into our lives when we start to take credit for something that usually God or others helped us achieve. I’ve seen too many people start to make progress in the ministry and think they’ve discovered their road to success, only to be derailed by the Tempter to get into pride. As both James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 instruct us… “God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” Let’s stay on the right side of this instruction, and receive all the grace we can by staying humble!
Third, I’d challenge them to stay faithful to what God has called them to do, and equipped them to be. The Apostle Paul used the illustration of running a race, and for me, that includes learning to stay in my lane! I’m not interested in trying to imitate or covet the ministry gifts I see in someone else. Our only focus should be on being faithful to the assignment God has given each one of us. My ultimate goal in ministry is to hear Jesus say those words described in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:21; “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things…”
This brings me back to my first and second words of advice and encouragement. We have to keep in mind that the eternal rewards will ultimately outweigh the temporal wounds that can be inflicted by those we minister to. Also, we must be determined to be content with the assignment God has given us and willing to be faithful over just a few things. If we fall into the trap of comparing what we’ve accomplished against the great things others have done, we may feel like we haven’t really been successful and become discouraged. If so, we’ll be tempted to call it quits!
Of course there are numerous other things that will become priorities at various times in our ministry journey, such as our prayer life, stewardship, character, integrity, etc. The list could be expanded, and I’m certain others will expound along these lines. But for me personally, I would categorize each of these under one of the three characteristics mentioned above.
I believe the three primary qualities that have helped me stay on track for over thirty years have been learning to stay focused and walk in love, to do my best to stay humble, and to strive to stay faithful to God’s assignment on my life.
Pastor Mike Campbell – Algood, TN
Being a fledgling minister is very exciting and can sometimes be overwhelming. Entering into a new position without any idea of what is expected can be a daunting task. Having more questions than answers is a tough place in life to be. I remember when I graduated Rhema and went to my current assignment. I thought what do you do as a minister? Being the good Rhema student, I had been involved at Rhema and had seen how some of the helps ministries were conducted but not how the pastors spent their day. I then remembered what I had done in the corporate world before I resigned and went to bible school. I wondered how it would all work out and then, when I arrived at the church where I was going on staff, I was helped greatly by my senior pastor. I still remember that meeting we had that day. I hope I have helped others who have come after me the way he helped me. Here were three things he told me.
1. You cannot change anything for a year!
My first few moments in his office that day were purposeful and also sobering. I had assumed that I had been hired because of what I could offer the church since I was a new Bible school candidate who had worked in the banking world. I was full of ideas and could not wait to unleash them on this church so people could be changed by the power of God. It was a real wake-up call when my pastor said “Mike, for one year you cannot change anything. You need to focus on learning why we do what we do and who we are. I know you have great ideas but change for the sake of changing will not work. You need to understand who you are working with and see what they are doing. Besides, no one is going to follow you just because you are a pastoral member.” Wow that hit me like a ton of bricks.
We are always met with resistance when we come into a job and are full of energy and ideas without an understanding of the place we are coming into. I think sometimes that we in the ministry have the idea that the place we are going into is about to fall into the abyss and without our ideas being implemented, that place will die. I learned a good lesson about change. Now I don’t suggest that you necessarily take a year before you enact change, but for the position I was going into it worked out great. Your situation may be different, but learn to follow your pastor and his wisdom. If you are becoming the pastor, then try to get good footing about the place you are going into. Learn your people and then consider some minor changes to begin with after time.
2. Respect is earned and not given.
I learned this in the corporate world. Respect for who you are and what you are doing is earned over time. The same is true of the ministry. There will be resistance to your coming if for no other reason than you represent change. People will give some respect to the position you are in, but the position does not make the person. Your position will buy you some time until you can make small steps in the right direction so that you can begin earning the respect of the people you are serving. People will follow someone whom they respect. They endure that person and you earn respect by loving people, seeking out the leaders and entertaining their wisdom. Then you carefully implement in small measures the changes you are wanting to make with assurance that you have heard from heaven. Follow through on these changes and keep pointing people in the right direction.
3. Learn to ask the right questions before you give the answers.
One of the big problems with leadership, that is of the novice level, is that we think we have all the answers. The stark reality of this is that we really do not know the right questions to ask. So to get us going in the right direction, learn who are leaders in the area you are working with and listen to their input and then learn to ask questions. Find out what is working along with why, and then ask how you could assist them in helping them to do it better. Do not assume that everything they are doing is wrong. Many immature leaders think their way is the right way and nothing else will do. However, to succeed and have longevity you must appreciate how people work and how they get things done even if it is not how you would do it.
These simple three steps will help you become a good leader over time. Good leadership is developed over time and does not happen as an event. So buckle up your chin strap and get in the game. You will make some mistakes along the way but use humility and you will come out well.
Dr. Dan Beller – Tulsa, OK
Here is my list of 3:
1. Pray one to two hours every morning for guidance from the Holy Spirit in short-term and long-term goals and directions. This dialogue of listening to God and talking with Him is paramount to any success in the ministry. Also, pray in the Holy Spirit throughout the day.
2. Confide in an older, successful Pastor for counsel and guidance. This type of relationship can save much heartache and help you accomplish your goals much faster and with better insight.
3. Realize that ministry, especially pastoral ministry, is not easy and is filled with many spiritual battles. The imagery is more like a war instead of a nice easy life. You must love the people unconditionally and always show that love in the pulpit and in personal relationships with them. Also, deal with small problems—with the people or in ministry—before they become large ones.
Pastor Walker Schurz – Lusaka, Zambia
1. Have a deep seated and emotionally-felt identity in your position as a child of God.
Ministry will have many unexpected ups and downs. Your position in ministry will change greatly over time. There will be seasons of great joy and fulfillment and other seasons of disappointment and frustration. If you find your identity in outward success or the applause of others, they will become your masters. The Apostle John had many potential ways of thinking about himself and they were quite noteworthy: author of epistles, the best friend of Jesus or caretaker of Mary. But he defined himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” The identity that defined him was that Jesus loved him. As Brennan Manning wrote: “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” Do what it takes to make this your deepest awareness of yourself.
2. Pray the prayer of frustration when you feel like quitting.
In Numbers 11, Moses was so despondent about the leadership position he had that he wanted God to kill him. His job was to lead 2 million, stiff-necked, idol worshipping, complaining, backstabbing, sexually immoral Israelites to a place they did not want to go. Instead of walking away or committing suicide, he let God in on his frustration. He was honest, raw and looking for a solution to his pain. God already knew what Moses needed to do, but waited on him to ask. God will always have an answer for your frustration. And like Moses, it will usually involve getting more godly people involved in your life. “Not quitting” is not the best solution. You can only go so long living in acute pain. You will need answers and God will always have them for you.
3. Deal with your stuff.
Peter had a big mouth. James and John had selfish ambition. Moses lived as an isolated leader. Maybe he had abandonment issues from being left in the reeds. You and I have inhaled a lot of air from the fallen world in which we were born. Our families of origin had issues and we have made plenty of mistakes. In one way or another, we are messed up. Thankfully, our spirits are made righteous and we are accepted in the beloved. But the salvation of our souls is an ongoing process. Ministry will bring out the cracks in your life. Get the help you need when you need it. God has made a wealthy world for your needs to be met. Find the grace that is in the body of Christ that you need. Don’t deny or spiritualize your dysfunction. Bring it to the light of God and others and get the healing and growth necessary to become the next great version of you.
Pastor Andy White – Chandler, AZ
Always, and at every stage, we have been opposed, but we’ve always persevered and so we’ve always prevailed.
The only thing I grade myself on is, “Am I am more dependent on God this year than I was last year?” Without him, I can do nothing. And that’s a Bible promise.
Pastor Terry Roberts – Warrenton, MO
There are several very important but simple things I would tell a new staff minister.
1. Keep your relationship with God strong.
In Mark 3:14, Jesus selected apostles to “be with him” and he sent them out to preach. Those same apostles were said to be uneducated in Acts 4:13 while being examined by the Jewish leaders but it was said of them that “they had been with Jesus”. It is very clear what Jesus’ priority for their live was. They were to relate to him and then help others from that overflow.
Ministry can easily overtake your relationship with God if you let it. If you are like me, being a minister wasn’t a career choice but the by-product of becoming a Christian and growing close to Jesus. At the end of the day your life and energy will come from your relationship to God, not your ministry. Your relationship with him is eternal and will continue throughout your life and throughout eternity. Remember you are a lamb before you are a shepherd.
Daily reading the Bible is essential. Find a plan that works and work at keeping it fresh. Try listening through it or switch translations occasionally if you need to. Journaling has allowed me to keep a record of conversations and insights that helped me later. Do whatever you need to do in order to keep closely connected to Jesus.
2. Keep your relationship with your family current.
Your marriage is essential to your emotional health. If your spouse is not your best friend stop reading this article and change that right now. There is no other way to survive and keep your life in balance than to break down the barrier that naturally arises between a couple just by being busy and distracted. Real success is being respected most by those who know you best. Talk together, play together, and attend marriage seminars together every so often. Feed your marriage even when it is healthy.
The same is true with your next priority, your children. Let your kids be honest and normal. Don’t let the church do the P.K. thing to them. Relationship is the key. As they grow up your have to fight to stay close to them. Make them a priority.
3. Never stop learning.
You have heard before that readers and leaders. I would go further and say learners are leaders. Put yourself on a yearly growth plan and intentionally expose yourself to the books, audio, and video that stretch you and help you lead better.
Step outside of your camp sometimes to learn from leaders in other streams of Christianity. There are even things you can learn in secular books and conferences that are helpful to you. Focus on some areas you are weak and then prayerfully search out the resources that will address that weakness.
I don’t necessarily recommend this but I actually went back to school to earn a degree. They required me to study subject I wouldn’t have chosen for myself and I don’t remember a time in my life when I or the church I pastor grew more. While I didn’t agree with everything they taught me, I knew why and was able to defend my values and beliefs better than before.
Without a learning plan you will get boring to yourself and others. The people around you will notice your progress or lack of it, especially in your preaching. When learning becomes fun it is contagious.
There are other things that could be mentioned as helpful like taking care of your physical health, don’t get into too much debt, and others. Find some mentors who made it for the long haul and follow their faith and examples. (Hebrews 13:7—Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. NLT)
Pastor Larry Phalen – Dickinson, ND
I have never advised any that have come to help me, but three things come to mind:
1. Never let money be your guide and leader.
2. If you were like I was, coming to the ministry later in life, treat your new assignment like the old. WORK HARD!! Don’t be slothful! Consider the ant!
3. Enjoy your new job, have fun, and don’t become religious. A person who works hard, plays hard…
God bless you in your new endeavor.
Pastor Jim Graff – Victoria, TX
Number one, I would say keep your personal relationship with God strong. We don’t minister for God as much as He ministers through us. Enjoy that reality. Next, I’d say to balance your life. Ministers are models and leaders—we can’t do everything. Finally, I’d say give yourself time to develop. Work hard and let God mature your ability to minister to others for Him. Those who stay close to God, live balanced lives, and endure will find much enjoyment.
Pastor James Hosack – Carlsbad, AZ
The three things I would tell a fledgling minister that would aid him in remaining in the ministry for the long-haul, would be as follows:
1. Pray out each step in the plan of God.
Find out what the Lord wants you to do and how He wants you to accomplish it. Maintain close fellowship with the Lord. You won’t have time for prayer, for the Word of God, for communion, and to maintain your spiritual walk with God. This is why you have to make time!!! Ministry is extremely demanding, as is life. You have to stick to your priorities. Prayer will help you remain on the right path, and allow the Lord to guide you in the right direction.
2. Maintain agreement and peace with your spouse.
Regarding your decisions and ministry location/vocation, your spouse will be your greatest encourager and advocate if you consider their feelings and insure that they are truly “on board” with your vision and plans. Listen to your spouse! Your spouse will see and hear the things you may not notice. They can provide honest feedback that will help you make more realistic assessments of situations. Men, especially, can tend to feel threatened when their wife wants to offer their “dose of reality” feelings and perspectives. They just need to be heard-out and their feelings considered. Once they know that you have really, truly listened to their viewpoints, and that you have considered all angles and possible outcomes to your decisions, most likely they will follow and support your vision all the way to the finish line! They will be your partner and true team member and support your vision even when others quit on you.
3. Solve the problem confronting you.
Solving problems develops and promotes ministries. T. L. Osborn once said, “We do not have a money crisis—we have an idea crisis!” Find God’s solutions and apply them. Brother Kenneth E. Hagin (“Dad Hagin”) confronted a hopeless medical diagnosis, which led to his discovery of Mark 11:23-24 and raised him off of his death bed to impact the World with his ministry.
Facing your difficulties and challenges in your life and ministry is much like a mediocre football team facing a tough schedule for the season ahead. Many teams have overcome their losing records of the past by discovering solutions and strengths which transformed them into victorious champions. The St. Louis Rams were such a team in the beginning of the 1999 season. They were the worst team in football. During their 3rd pre-season game, the starting quarterback’s knee was shattered and so were most of the team’s hopes to have a good season. Kurt Warner was moved up in the roster to begin as the new starter for the season. He asked his pastor, Jeff Perry of St. Louis Family Church, to pray over him. He walked out on the field the next week and lead his team to victory after amazing victory and through to a Superbowl championship. The team faced seemingly insurmountable setbacks, yet it discovered new solutions and talents and turned into a winning team! Discover solutions to your toughest challenges, and experience the turnarounds and victories God has for you!
Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
1. Don’t assume that every minister that you work for is being led by the Holy Spirit. They are human—not super-human—sometimes they get an agenda of their own and you can’t hook up with their vision because it is not God’s vision.
2. Realize that ministry is W-O-R-K and that God called you because he knew that you could be a minister for the long haul. W-O-R-K to prove Him right.
3. Be a historian. Take the time to learn why things are done the way they are in the place that you have been hired. Don’t walk in criticizing or trying to make wholesale changes to a system that you have not been part of.
Pastor Bernie Samples – Barstow, CA
1. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. You must look at your ministry as much more than a career—it is a gift on the inside of you and will follow you all of your life. You will never get away from it, so make sure you do what you do each step of the way to please Jesus first (Psalm 75:6-7). He is the only one that can truly promote you!
2. (Psalm 133) Be a team player! I like John Maxwell’s Acronym , “T“ogether “E“veryone “A“ccomplishes “M“ore. It’s not all about you; it’s all about Jesus and helping people to know His love! I have a picture on our corporate office wall with words that President Reagan kept in a frame on his desk, “There’s no limit to what can be accomplished if nobody cares who gets the credit!”
3. (Galatians 6:7) The law of seed time and harvest!!! Be faithful not only to Jesus but to the pastor and people that God has assigned you to. What kind of person you are to the people you are supposed to be submitted to now, will determine what kind of people respect and submit to your authority later! Always remember, “Love never fails!” “Go the extra mile!” We are all a work in progress, but Jesus will always reward faithfulness!
Pastor Phillip Curtis – Franklin, IN
1. Find a “spiritual father” that has integrity, loves the Word, and has a clear desire for the Holy Spirit. Let him sow into you and be a “sounding board” for you.
2. People will fail you. Accept it and let go of hurts. Find godly people to help if needed (keep it to just a few, though).
3. Stay filled with the Spirit. One way is to pray much in the Spirit.
Pastor Chris Pugh – Parkersburg, WV
I would encourage someone just stepping out in ministry with many, many pieces of advice, but if I was limited to three, I believe this would be it:
1) Be cautious about substituting “the work of the Lord” for “the Lord of the work.”
As your ministry grows, it can become easy to get so caught up in the many responsibilities that your personal walk with the Lord can begin to slip. The Mary and Martha syndrome is something that every minister needs to be on constant alert for. As you well know, Martha was concerned “with her many preparations” (work) while Mary “chose the better part” (relationship with the Lord). If we keep our relationship fresh, the work will be a lot easier and far more rewarding.
2) Remember, you’re responsible TO people, not FOR people.
In ministry, it can be frustrating at times to pour your life into someone and then watch them walk away from what they know is the right thing to do. One time I was beginning to wonder what I was doing wrong when I saw people in my church doing this. Hebrews 4:2 says, “the Word did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” I was wondering what I was doing wrong, because I wasn’t seeing the Word “profit” people the way I knew it should. But then the Lord ministered to me that it was my job to minister the Word, and it was the person’s job to mix it with faith. As long as I was doing my part to prepare and minister the Word, I had done my part and I wasn’t responsible for what they did with it.
3) Always stay humble.
After some time of ministry, and as you begin to achieve some measure of “success.” You can become tempted to adopt the attitude of “I’m pretty good at this.” When that attitude begins to sneak in, a couple red flags need to go up. One is to recognize that this is pride in it’s infancy—and we all know what the Lord thinks of pride. He is near to the humble, but the proud He knows afar off.
The second is you’re beginning to distance yourself from further success. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you at the proper time” (1Peter 5:6). Humility is the pathway to success. One thing I stay ever mindful of is 1Corinthians 15:10—“by the grace of God I am what I am.” It’s only by God’s grace any of us can ever achieve anything permanent for His kingdom.
Hope this helps.
Pastor Jim Blanchard – Virginia Beach, VA
I would advise the following 3 concepts for longevity in ministry:
1. Know that you know that you know that you are called to serve God in ministry as a career path and not on a volunteer type basis.
This will help to keep you grounded during the challenging phases of ministry. Go back to your original calling from the Lord to keep you steady and encouraged.
2. Seek out mentorship from seasoned and experienced ministers and leaders.
It’s a good idea to pick up the phone and build relationships with mentors that you respect and can glean from. I would recommend being patient in gaining experience and knowledge; Bible school is a very small percentage of the knowledge needed to stay long-term in ministry.
3. Put God first; however don’t neglect your marriage or your family in fulfilling ministry obligations.
If you do so, you may regret it in later years as these relationships can suffer in the missionary zeal to the ministry. Your family and spouse—those who love you and know you best—are your safeguards against the deceptions of the enemy and temptations along the journey.
May God infuse you with strength and wisdom to carry out your high calling with dignity and grace and to touch many lives with the Good News of Jesus!
Pastor Virgil Stokes – Tuscon, AZ
Only 3? Tough to limit it. Hmmmm. Could use family issues, physical health, time away, but here we go, top 3:
1. The first one is easy: Never forget your call.
Write it down and revisit it. Paul called it “the heavenly vision.” Either God called you or He didn’t. If He did, He will never change His mind. If He didn’t, then get out now. I make it a point to revisit the moment I accepted His call at least once a year and “renew my vows.” I was in a Pastor’s conference a few years ago where I asked the men in the room to take one minute to close their eyes and simply remember the moment they knew that God had called them to ministry. Before the minute was over, the tears were flowing all over the room as men relived the wonder of being chosen by God. Never forget.
2. Don’t be impressed with gifts; neither yours nor other’s.
God supplies gifts. Character must be developed and reflects diligence, consecration, and perseverance. Whatever time and effort you invest in developing your gifts, double it and invest it in developing your character. Ministries don’t fail for lack of gifting; they fail for lack of character. In selecting friends, employees, and employers, put more weight on character than on gifting. If you are around people who see themselves small and God big, you have a chance it will rub off.
3. Find a mentor, someone of character who has been down the road farther than you.
Look for someone who has been faithful over what God has given them to do and whose life reflects a track record of trustworthiness. Invest in a relationship with them. That will mean making it a priority to spend time with them. Take the initiative in finding ways to be around them. Go to the same events. Help out with projects. Ask to buy them a cup of coffee then put it on the calendar and keep the appointment. Allow them to speak into your life directly. Ask for advice. Share personal and ministry problems. Spend time just hanging out and allowing their attitudes to soak in on you. You don’t know yet what you don’t know. You need to be around someone who does.
Pastor John B. Lowe – Warsaw, IN
Other than obvious ones that everyone should know?
1. Communication. Make sure with Jesus, it is clean and healthy. With family and friends, clean and healthy. With the staff you serve of your congregation, clean and healthy.
2. Teach others to give as much grace to you as you do to them.
3. In Tony Cooke’s book, Grace : the DNA of God, Rev. Tony quotes Max Lucado as saying, “This isn’t heaven, so lower expectations.” Don’t compromise biblical principles, but see the redeeming hand of God.
Different isn’t wrong and your opinion will grow. This means change! Don’t be afraid of change.
Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA
First, be sure of the call.
In ACTS 13:2, we read, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” In order to survive the challenges of full-time ministry, one must be certain of his or her call. Paul endured unthinkable challenges during his tenure as an apostle. It was the call that provided the anchor for his soul during these challenging times. Without a call, it would be easy to walk away from the demands of ministry. The call serves as the foundation upon which our faith to serve stands.
Second, be faithful to help others succeed.
In Luke 16:10-12, Jesus revealed the keys to having your own ministry. In short, He said to be faithful in that which seems small; be faithful with your finances, and be faithful to help another man succeed. If you’re serving under another man’s ministry, help him succeed and do it with a right mental attitude. What you sow is what you reap, and you will need others to help you succeed in your call. Surrounding yourself with faithful partners will promote longevity in ministry.
Thirdly, don’t put “the work of the Lord” above “the Lord of the work.”
Ministry is a supernatural work. Trying to face spiritual forces that will certainly come against your life and ministry with intellectual powers will wear you down and cause burn out. It’s those who wait upon the Lord who renew their strength and run and not get weary, walk and not faint. Remember, if we minister to God first, then we’re equipped to minister to others. Jesus modeled this in His ministry. He always ministered to His Father before facing the demands of public ministry. In ministry, it’s easy to get caught up with neglecting ourselves to help others.
I’ve been in full-time ministry for 35 years at the same church. It seems like yesterday even though we’ve had our share of challenges. There are many more things to say along these lines, being Spirit-led, and having the right vision; but more than anything, be sure you are called and prepared to fulfill the call God has placed upon your life.
Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI
#1 Be In A Constant State Of Improvement
Lack of improvement is enough to make anyone feel like throwing in the towel and missing out on the excitement and adventure of long-term success in ministry. Years ago, Newsweek magazine did an article on the Olympics. In this article they said there was only one difference between the person who took the gold medal and those who took silver and bronze—it was their attitude. Attitude is what largely determines if a person will have long-term success or not. It’s an attitude that says, “I must get better! I must make personal development a top priority.”
*Seth Godin in his book, Purple Cow said, “You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.” In today’s world it’s not enough to have a good ministry or to be a good leader or pastor. You must be remarkable! Your ministry must be remarkable, breathtaking and filled with excellence. Leaders and ministries that strive to become remarkable are constantly improving and end up with long-term success…while the others just blend in and become invisible to the people in their communities.
#2 Consistently Love People Deeply
This has to start at home. I’ve read that every month 1,700 pastor are dropping out of the ministry and one of the top reasons is marriage and family. Here’s the thing—you can’t love the people of your community deeply while not loving your family deeply and expect to last in ministry. Don’t make the fatal mistake of being a public success but a private failure. Up close and personally, I have watched great pastors, great communicators, and leaders have to drop out of the race because their marriage imploded.
It’s easy to impress people at a distance, but the fact is we only really impact them when we get up close to them. The closer the relationship, the greater potential for impact!
One of the dangers of being in the ministry for any decent length of time is in getting caught up with all the “other stuff”—from speaking engagements, big events, endless meetings, activities, e-mails, and planning for the future. All those things are okay, and some are even necessary, but none of them bring about long-term success like loving people deeply…loving them and strategically reproducing your life into them. I heard Pastor Che Ahn recently say, “Love is the business of the Kingdom.”
#3 Develop “Stick-to-it-iveness”
Call it what you want—tenacity, the heart of a finisher, endurance—it all means the same thing. It’s that incredible ability to stick with your calling even through the most grueling of times.
One of the greatest qualities found in pastors and leaders today that go the long haul is the ability to stay in the race and stick with your calling. Galatians 6:9-10 says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap IF we do not lose heart.” Your biggest and brightest days are yet to come. The question is, will you hang in there long enough to experience them?
When I’m tempted to quit, I’m reminded of marathon runner John Stevens of Tanzania. It was 1968 during the Olympics in Mexico and he was running in last place. In fact the winner from Ethiopia had crossed the finish line one hour before John. He had fallen several times, was bruised and bloodied, and a medical team followed him in an ambulance. They had tried to convince him to just call it quits. After all he didn’t win the race and needed medical help badly. He refused and kept going and when he entered the stadium, the crowd gave him a standing ovation larger than the gold medal winner. When a reporter asked him why he did not give up, he said this, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start a race. They sent me to finish the race.” You are called not to be a great starter, but a great finisher.
* Purple Cow Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin