Jim Ryun once said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” When it comes to working in ministry, we can have all the motivation in the world, particularly when we’re starting out, or we’re in a new season of our ministry. But what happens when the monotony sets in? What do we do when the day-to-day gets overwhelming? How do we remain effective in our ministry?
I believe the answers to these questions lie within the habits we adopt and practice. Therefore, as pastors and leaders in ministry, it is so important that we are diligent in instilling the right habits into our lives so that we remain effective and fruitful for the kingdom, even when our motivation is lacking.
With that in mind, here are three habits of highly effective pastors that I would urge you to implement in your own life if you haven’t already.
- They make their own faith a priority.
You can’t keep pouring out if you don’t take the time to refill your own cup. If you try, you’ll end up feeling empty, and you’ll have nothing left to offer your congregation, your staff, or even your family. This is why spending time growing in your personal relationship with Christ should be your top priority. Yes, the role you’re in requires you to help lead others to grow in their faith, but the preparation for that role should not replace your own quality time with the Lord. Your sermon prep and your quiet time should never overlap. Instead, be diligent in carving out time to dive into God’s Word for your own sake. Spend time in prayer, not just talking, but also listening for whatever it is God might have to say to you. And soak up everything you can from your time with Him so that He might refill your soul each day as you prepare to pour into others.
- They know how and when to say “no.”
When you’re in the position of pastoring and shepherding others, it can be tempting to say yes to every request for help you receive. It can be tempting to feel guilty when you have to say no to a meeting, or if you have to decline an invitation to some sort of event or gathering where your presence is desired. But ultimately, saying “no” is a practice that you must become proficient in if you want to maintain healthy boundaries and stay on track in pursuing your mission. If all you ever do is say yes, you’re going to run yourself ragged. You’re going to overextend yourself, and as a result, no one will end up getting the best from you because you failed to honor the boundaries you knew you should have kept. So learn to say no. Start small if you need to. You don’t have to say big no’s right away if that’s something that’s difficult for you to do. But keep your mission and your goal in mind, and remember that saying “no” could make room for an even better “yes.”
- They make time to meet with mentors.
Regardless of how long you’ve been working in ministry or how long you’ve been pastoring your church, you will never get to the point where you know it all. You will always need wisdom, help, and prayer from the people God has placed in your life, specifically, your mentors. A highly effective pastor knows this, and therefore he makes time to meet with these mentors on a regular basis. He asks them hard questions. He seeks their wise counsel. He tells them all the details of his life, not holding back from telling even the not-so-great parts. He does this because he knows the value in being known and in inviting others in to give direction and encouragement when needed. So if it’s been a while since you’ve met with your mentor(s), I hope you’ll take this as a nudge to reach out to them and get a meeting on the calendar. And if you don’t have a mentor, may you begin praying and asking the Lord to fill that void in your life with someone who can offer you wisdom as you continue pursuing your call in ministry.