Wednesday, August 20, 2014

8 Steps to a Joyful Ministry.

  • 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce. 
  • 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living. 
Ministry is not for the faint of heart, but it is satisfying to lead people to physical, spiritual, and relational wholeness. There are 8 specific things pastors can do to keep from being a statistic.

1.  Maintain Your Sabbath.

Exodus 20:8-10a (NKJV) 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work:

Highly driven people try to make every minute count. For them there is no Sabbath rest. Ministers, healthcare workers and our first responders are not able to take off on their normal Sabbath day. As a result many forego a day of rest. God created us to be cyclical in our work. It is important that we rest one day for every six that we work. If we forego out weekly day of rest, we become vulnerable to all types of physical relational and spiritual issues.  When we take on more than what God has called us to we loose our sense of balance and with it our ability to think, reason, and take care of ourselves.
People will call and say "I will die if you can't see me today."
You need to ask them "How long have you had this problem?"

2.  Stick to God’s Call.

We often will try to take on more responsibilities than God has assigned to us. We do this for many reasons; we want to be accommodating, we want others to like us, we want to feel important, or we feel that if we do not do them they will not be done. There are always many good things that need to be done that do not have our name on them. If we take on someone else’s task we run the risk of overloading ourselves and robbing them of the blessing they would receive in serving.

3.  Get Physical Exercise

Physically exercise is one of the greatest relievers of stress we have available to us. According to the famous Mayo Clinic,
“Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.”[i]
We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but we are often too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or if you are out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Physical activity helps to increase the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Regular exercise can increase your self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression, and anxiety.

4.  Take Time to Laugh

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”[ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.][ii]
One thing that will be important to all who are in ministry is to take time to laugh. Go see a funny movie. Do not be afraid to laugh at yourself. Be among people who have a good sense of humor.
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your spirit, soul, and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. 
  • Laughter boosts the immune system.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins.
  • Laughter protects the heart. It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow.

5.  Take Time for Yourself.

My wife Rita tells me that painting gives her such satisfaction. "I can move the paint around and if it doesn't look quite right I can scrape it off.  Knowing it's going to be there.    
Whatever it is that satisfies you, let God bless you through it. The Lord is equipping you that will be a part of your protection.

6.  Maintain Healthy Relationships. 

Broken or damaged relationships suck the very heart out of you. Some relationships may not be restorable and in those cases we need to forgive. Sometimes forgiveness has to be a regular thing.
Peter asked Jesus, “How many times are we to forgive?” Jesus responded with a number far beyond what anyone could have imagined. Our relationships with those we encounter on a regular basis must be kept healthy. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, “If you do not have it together at home, you should seriously consider getting out of the ministry until you get it together.” Our relationships with fellow workers and other staff must be kept healthy our ministry and our personal life will suffer.

7.  Maintain Your Devotional Life,

Our relationship with God must be intimate and healthy. How else will we be able to respond to His direction and call on our lives? How else will we know our assignment? We need to stop and listen and wait upon the Lord. He will speak to us and guide our life.
We must also be honest with Him about our desires and our feelings. Our prayers may not always terribly courteously to God. But they should be honest.  Tell Him exactly how you feel. He knows your heart anyway.   
Jeremiah 20:7 (NKJV) 7  O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me.
When I graduated from seminary, they gave me a gift of a little red book with Psalms and Proverbs. The book is arranged for a daily devotion covering an entire month. On the first day of the month you are to read Psalms, 1, 31, 61, 91, 121, and Proverbs 1. Then day 2 you read Psalms 2, 32, 62, 92, 122, and Proverbs 2. It continues in that way through the month.

8. Thank God

Thank God for all He has given you. Doctors say the healthiest emotion you can have is gratitude. In fact the more you work on this attitude of being grateful, the healthier you will be. Be thankful for everything you receive. Each day find five things you that you are thankful for and express your gratitude to God.


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