If you are involved in ministry, you are running hard and deep, and even though you are probably fulfilled from doing …
If you are involved in ministry, you are running hard and deep, and even though you are probably fulfilled from doing what you were made to do, you still understand the heavy demands of answering the call. I have known pastors and leaders who seem to grasp their calling niche, and yet, I have seen others who flounder and never feel settled. Here is my list of five essentials that have helped sustain me through the trials and testing of ministry.
Confirm your calling.
Calling is the first stop. Finding out what God is calling you to do and then waiting on Him to fit you into that role is the process in which you find and become fulfilled in ministry. I have known people to struggle in ministry and later decide that they were never called to it. I will be the first to say that not all struggles in ministry are calling-related, but it is the key hurdle as you attempt to establish your purpose as a leader. So, how do you know what God’s will and call is for your life? Romans 12:2 tells us to stop modeling our life after the world but rather to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind,” then, the verse says, we will be able to “test and approve what the Lord’s will is.” After we clear the spiritual channels between us and God, we should look at our passions to help us discover our calling. If you are in a ministry and the objective, mission and program doesn’t line up with your passions, then you might be in the wrong ministry. Use the input of close friends and co-leaders to validate your calling, often others can identify our gifts and passions better than we can.
Focus on Prayer.
Prayer is so important to the effectiveness and longevity of your ministry. You must stay in constant communication with God to know what to do, where to go, who to reach out to and how to do it. Paul reminds us in Colossians 4:2-3 that prayer and ministry go hand in hand: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” Anyone involved in ministry who just wakes up and goes through the day on their own strength is heading down the road of burnout and despair (believe me, I’m speaking from experience here). Not only do you need to be prayed up, but you need to be prayed for. If you are in ministry and do not have people praying for you and supporting you, drop what you’re doing and build a support base—how can you reach out to others if no one is reaching out to you?
Go the extra mile.
Have you ever known that person who always seems to be so willing to give ministry his whole-hearted eighty-five percent? When it comes to leadership, you must be willing to give it your all, and here is why. Ministry is designed to benefit two groups of people: those being ministered to and the one doing the ministering (that’s you). God will teach you as you teach others, and if you put your wants in front of other’s needs, then you will compromise the collective opportunity for growth. Ephesians 4:1 says to, “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” This means going the extra mile, giving God every opportunity to bless what you are doing.
Don’t underestimate the impact of time.
Most often, those who stay in the same ministry locale for an extended time are the ones who make the most impact. It is said that it takes three years to begin to see the results of your ministry. You need to have the vision to see it through. Ministry is ultimately about relationships, and relationships take time. This is not to say that you can never leave a ministry, but you shouldn’t leave it undone and never leave a ministry out of selfishness.
Hone three important skills.
In order to be successful as a ministry leader, I believe that you must be gifted in three key areas: building relationships, leadership, and creativity. These three things are critical for young ministry leaders. This is not to say that this is all you need in your bag of ministry gifts, but other ministry-related attributes like compassion, vision, conflict management, organization, communication skills, all come out of those main three: relationships, leadership, and creativity.