Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Lessons About Ministry

1.  Put Your Marriage and Family First.  Put them before your church, your church work, your ministry, your whatever.  Planting a church is tough work.  Pastoring is tough work.  Being on a church staff is tough work.  Heck, being a volunteer ministry leader is tough.  Your work is never done, and you don’t have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dam. The sheer volume of things to be done can overwhelm your schedule very quickly, robbing you of time, energy, and leaving you emotionally drained.  This means your family gets what little of you is left over.  Don’t give your family, spouse, or children the short end of the stick – for anyone or anything.

2.  What You Do to Reach People is What You Have to Do to Keep Them.  This is a powerful ministry lesson to learn.  You can draw a crowd by doing bold, audacious things because people have a tendency to show up at places where the latest big splash occurs.  But if you use that model of ministry, you will have to keep outdoing yourself week after week, month after month.  Additionally, it will be hard to move people towards spiritual growth, because you will have unknowingly created a culture where discipleship isn’t modeled.

On the other hand, if you simply use the Bible to reach people and emphasize full devotion to Jesus Christ, that’s all you’ll ever need to keep people.  After all, Jesus Himself said that students want to be like their teacher and disciples want to be like their master.... and for them “this is enough” (Matt. 10:25).

In the end, hype and sizzle doesn’t help.  Discipleship does.  It’s not hard to draw a crowd, but it requires a great deal of intentionality and hard work to take people on a spiritual journey. 

3.  It Doesn’t Get Easier When it Gets Bigger.  I used to think a bigger church would mean a bigger budget, but in reality it just means bigger expenses.  The same problems exist in larger churches as smaller churches; only with more zeros.  

People who are not generous in a little church won’t be generous in a bigger church.  People who are not faithful in the little things won’t be faithful in bigger things.  It's just the way it is.

I wonder why we equate bigger with better.  Maybe it’s just an American thing.  But bigger is not always better.  Bigger is just bigger, and it doesn’t make things easier.

4.  You Can’t Do it Alone.  You.  Can’t.  Do.  It.  Alone.  Don’t even try.  You’ll crash and burn, have a meltdown, or end up in a moral ditch somewhere.  Surround yourself with people to help shoulder the load.  Until such people show up or step up, it’s best to let some things go undone.  Wait on God – and in His timing – because He will send the right person at the right time.  Even Moses needed the help of Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands when he grew tired (Exodus 17:12).

5.  Do Not Neglect Yourself, Your Soul, or Your Mental Health.  You can have a big church, a big ministry, or a big business, and be withering on the inside.  What good is it if you have growing influence and gain the whole world, but lose your own soul?  What good are you to anyone if you have a nervous breakdown because you burned the candle at both ends, never taking enough time for yourself?

Taking care of your own soul is the most important thing that any person can do – including ministry workers.  Forget this, and you’ll live to regret it.

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