Archives for : Thriving

Thriving As A Leader



How do you survive the challenges of ministry?  What do you do when you realize ministry is hard difficult work at times?  Paul spoke of this struggle in II Corinthians 11:28, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.”  After mentioning being imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty and continually in danger, Paul lists the daily pressure of caring for the churches in the same breath.

There was a day your calling gave you a passion and zeal where you knew God was going to accomplish great and mighty things in your ministry!  Maybe you were fueled by some unrealistic expectations but your faith was grounded on the truth that God is able!  You still believe He is able, at least you think He is, but the realities of difficult ministry, and especially difficult people, has caused some doubt to swell up inside of you.

Can you thrive in your ministry assignment no matter how difficult it may have become?  No, you can’t, but God can by continuing to work in you and through you!  Your calling and the carrying out of that call begins and ends with Him!  In A Work of Heart Reggie McNeal says, “The call involves relationship at its core, not just function or task, though it carries clear task components.”

Are there some things you can do to keep your spiritual battery charged?  Are there some steps you can take to help you when you feel discouraged or disillusioned?  Absolutely!  Here are few things to practice that will definitely help you remain focused and faithful:

  • Run to the Lord Daily – Lamentations 3:22-24 – “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say, The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.”
  • Remember Your Calling – In the midst of a very stormy meeting with the Sanhedrin the Lord reminded Paul of his calling in Acts 23:11, “The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
  • Refresh Yourself Regularly – You must find margin in your life to be able to take a deep breath and relax.  What is it that helps you unwind, relax, and recharge your battery?  Hebrews 4:4 says, “for somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in this way: And on the seventh day God rested from all His works.”
  • Rely on Trusted Friends – II Timothy 1:16-17, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus,  because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.”  We need friends we can go to and who will come after us!

In 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them, Charles Stone offers a clear path on how to respond to the frustrations of ministry.  It is not “if” frustrations will come but “when” they come.  Here is the strategy that he offers:

  1. “Open Up with Vulnerability” – “Do you have a safe confidant?”  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to isolate yourself from others who can help.  The Barna Research Group discovered that only “10% of pastors seek counsel to help manage church frustration.” Barna also reported in 2006 that “61% of pastors have few close friends.”  There is a “Lone Ranger” mentality out there in the ministry that is dangerous at best and devastating at worst.  Do not go it alone!
  2. “Own Up with Humility” – “Does what frustrates you jibe with scripture?”  We must be honest about ministry frustrations but we need to also be honest about whether they should frustrate us or not.  Maybe we are getting upset about things that really do not matter as much to God as we think?  Maybe we have been measuring the wrong things and need to change the scorecard.  Stone says this, “The more self-aware we become, the more we can take constructive action in areas detrimental to us, our families, and our churches.”
  3. “Show Up with Integrity” – “Are my responses to ministry frustrations healthy?”  The truth is that people are impacted far more by how you react then how you act.  How are you responding right now to ministry frustrations?  Are you reacting in a Biblical and spiritual manner that is pleasing to God?  Stone offers this wisdom, “As God weans me from letting organizational frustrations (fill in what frustrates you) hammer me, I’m slowly learning to focus on what matters most to His heart: love for Him and love for others.”
  4. “Speak Up with Courage” – “Is what I want really what I need, and who needs to know?”  Unfortunately, there are far too many war stories of ministry gone badly.  The focus here is not sharing those war stories but rather overcoming in the midst of them.  You must seek the face of God to determine what changes need to be made and who you need to share that message with.  Ed Stetzer gives some great advice in this area, “Pastor, your ultimate calling is not first and foremost to pastor a church…but to come to Jesus yourself.”

God wants you to thrive not just survive.  Thriving is not dependent upon what is happening to you but what is happening inside of you!  I Samuel 30:6 says, “David was in a difficult position because the troops talked about stoning him, for they were all very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

One other step I would suggest…..…buy 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them by Charles Stone…..…it will be a big help to you in your ministry journey!