Hanging in for the Long Haul of Ministry

Ministry can feel like climbing a huge mountain at times can’t it? When I first started out things seemed so simple… If you are like me, while ministry is exciting and fulfilling, you have also come to realize that ministry can be challenging and overwhelming at times.

What began as clear-cut becomes confusing…

What began as a blessing can feel like a curse at times…

Just like a stranded rock climber, it’s easy to get worn out, we feel confused and disoriented, and we have lost sight of all the beauty around us…

Rock Climber

So, how can we avoid getting to this point? How can we refocus and rediscover the passion if we already feel this way? Here are 4 essential keys I live by.  These keys in essence have become my personal ‘home base’ to come back to…

1) Always be growing in your own faith walk: This should be a given, but I know personally that there have been seasons where I have been running on empty or feeling personally disconnected with God. For many of us, our schedule and propensity to people please has become an enemy of our quiet time with God. Prayer and Bible study become lesson preparation rather than personal growth. We all know that we need to be filling the tank, but are we really? How are your quiet times fueling your passion for Jesus and the people He has called you to? Seriously, pause to consider this…

When the ministry season is challenging, things look a whole lot worse when we are running on empty…

2) Always be looking to learn: I am not sure if we are all naturally good at it, but I am always pushing to become more self-aware of areas in my life that need work and correction. I never want to be one of those people who didn’t see the crash coming. It’s my goal to be brutally honest with myself and allow others who I trust to speak truth into my life. Sure, we all need to be picking up books on ministry, but the best lessons learned are often about ourselves and what God is challenging to change. I have discovered that when I become self-aware of my struggles and issues, it is then that God can transform me first, and then use me with great effectiveness. How about you?

Authentic leaders are self-aware and are willing to become learners of their innermost issues and struggles.

3) Always be looking to love well: The truth is, we will blow it sometimes! There will be days when our students, leaders, and parents see us mess up. However, if we are committed to loving people well, we will discover a lot of grace that is extended during our greatest mistakes. When people feel disconnected or at odds with us, we should expect a ‘disconnected response’ when we blow it… Now, I know that people should not respond lacking grace for us, but this is a reality in many of our churches. When we love well, people will see past many of our faults… (But that does not mean we shouldn’t be working to eradicate those faults…)

Love covers a multitude of sins and mistakes, so ensure that we make it easy for others to extend grace to us.

4) Fight for Family Balance. Ministry can be consuming at times and there are certain seasons when we are likely to be busier than others. The problem for many of us is that those seasons can turn into years if we are not careful. It’s easy for our spouses, kids, and loved ones to get our left overs and eventually resent the ministry we have been called to. While there will be seasons of busyness, it is essential that our schedules and priorities reflect a healthy balance of family and ministry. Practically speaking, it comes down to time. Do you and I schedule family first, or do they get added in after everything else? Are there times in the week when the phone is off and family is given the full focus? Are there defaults in your family schedule for date nights, family nights and getaways?

Our priority for our family is reflected most in our schedule. What does your family schedule look like? 

While there are many things that we could add to this list, these are the essentials I focus on to ensure that I stay internally focused on God with a healthy external focus on others. What works for you? What do you need more of in your life right now? What needs to go? What needs to change?

Phil <><

photo credit: GORE-TEX® Products via photopin cc

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