I had once had a 99 year old lady tell me the secret to long life: Faith in God, positive attitude, and have a great sense of humor.
The secret to staying in ministry is simple: Don't quit too soon.
Preachers quit for many reasons. Sometimes it's for health reasons, other times for financial reasons, occasional for moral reasons, but often it's simply the result of discouragement. I've had a few short youth ministries and just now entering my longest preaching ministry in Central Virginia. What worked for me may not work necessarily for you. Every preacher is different and every congregation is different.
1. I didn't ever intend to be a preacher in Central Virginia. Turns out right place, in right timing, that God placed me here after serving a sister congregation years prior as a youth minister.
2. I do not think I would be the same preacher if starting today and the demands. It has been some of the lessons I've learned along the way that helped shape me where I am.
There seems to be several important factors of one still being in ministry even after 22 years and here are some:
The Minister's Attitude, Work Ethic, Preaching, Relationship to Leadership, and Personal Life.
I. The Minister's Attitude. (Remember the positive attitude?) Ask yourself is it your life or livelihood? career or calling? employee of elders or man of God? do you serve the church or does the church serve you? Is there any task beneath you? (willing to move chairs and tables?) Don't be overbearing, prideful or domineering. What is your attitude toward the church? Criticize them?Encourage them? Know how to apologize? face up to your mistakes, laugh at yourself? Attitude toward the Unchurches? See the lost? Can you love the unlovely?
II. The Minister's Work Ethic. No room for laziness in ministry. be a shepherd, not a commander. lead the people. If you don't love your work, your workers will never love you. Seek to generate zeal in others. Work for unity in the church family. Preachers are often responsible for "splits" in the church. Don't do it. Heal wounds. "Blessed are the peacemakers"
III. The Minister's Preaching.
Stay in the main stream. Keep the main thing - the main thing. Don't ride hobby horses or major on minors. Preach the Word. Work for variety and freshness in your preaching (That's why I try to Waypoint's Annual Preaching Summit seminar). A visiting preacher can get away with a set of few sermons but staying at the same church - try to improve your preaching and its style. Strive for excellence in your sermons. Listen to others. Get your facts straight (With the internet - check the sources snopes.com) Don't insult your audience.
IV. The Minister's Relationship to the Leadership.
Know your role. Where do you fit in? Get to know your leaders, work along side of them. Maintain your level of excitement and generate that in others. Be flexible. Don't think because you have education from Bible College, seminary you are the final authority or your way is the only way. Don't assume its you versus Them. Let the leaders share responsibility.
V. The Minister's Personal Life.
Family. Take care of them. They are your first ministry. Love your wife. Love the children. Be their father first. Finances. - work on them. Don't live beyond your means. Faith - develop your spiritual life. If there is something I wished I did more was pray more, worry less, and give of myself ....
Anything you would add?
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