Being a pastor is no small feat. It’s a job that comes with immense pressure, responsibility, and challenging situations. But I don’t have to tell you that. If you’ve been working in ministry for any amount of time, you know this to be true based on your own experience.
When working in ministry gets tough, it can be difficult to persevere and keep pressing on towards the goal, as Paul tells us to do, specifically when we’re not receiving much encouragement and motivation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to hear you did a good job after preaching a sermon, but there’s a difference between being encouraged for what you do and being encouraged for who you are.
That being said, as a pastor who’s been in the ministry world for a long time, I want to offer you some encouragement as you continue to press on in your call to minister to others for the sake of the gospel. I know how tough this road can be, but I hope you’ll take these words to heart and that the Holy Spirit will use them to fuel, or maybe even reignite, the fire within you to serve your church or your ministry well.It’s okay to prioritize your own health.
A pastor friend of mine once told me that the health of your congregation will reflect the health of you and your staff. Over the years, I’ve seen this statement prove to be true time and time again. When a pastor and his staff prioritize their own spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational health, that’s only going to benefit the church. So, in your journey to work hard and give everything you have to your ministry, don’t forget that it’s okay to take care of yourself and prioritize your own health. In fact, it’s not just okay – it’s necessary for the health and growth of your church and your ministry.
This could look like you and your staff taking a monthly sabbath on a normal workday, carving out specific time during the week to spend time with the Lord and take a breather from all the stresses of life. This could mean taking advantage of resources like mentorship or counseling, making sure you have someone to listen to you and give you wisdom, rather than always being the one listening and offering wisdom to others. These are just a couple of examples, but I hope it encourages you to make space for yourself to be filled up and replenished so that you can continue to minister to others well.
The success of your ministry is not defined by the size of your ministry.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And while many people apply this saying to social media or social circles, the same is true when it comes to working in ministry. I know how tempting it can be to compare the size of your congregation, your budget, your building, your preaching style, and your online reach to other pastors and other ministries. But, let me give you an encouraging reminder: the success of your ministry is not determined by the size of your ministry. That includes the size of your congregation, the size of your budget, the size of your facility, and the size of your social media following.
The Lord has placed you where you are right now for a specific purpose and a specific reason. He has given you the blessing of stewarding the ministry and the congregation in front of you. There is always going to be another church with more people, more likes, more followers, more money, and more campuses. So instead of allowing your focus to zero in on what you don’t have or what you wish you had, choose to focus on the opportunities and the people that are right in front of you. You don’t want to miss out on the impact and the influence you could have on the road ahead because you’re too busy looking to the right and to the left. Remember to thank the Lord for the ministry He’s given you and be diligent, wise, grateful, and expectant as you move forward with what He’s placed in your lap right now.
You are not defined by one “bad sermon.”
Almost every pastor I know has delivered what they would consider being a “bad sermon.” And if they haven’t delivered one yet, odds are they will at some point in the future. We’re human beings. We make mistakes, and not every piece of content we ever preach will be our best work. Therefore, when you walk off the stage knowing the sermon you just delivered wasn’t your best, remember this: one bad sermon does not define you as a pastor or your ministry as a whole.
You wouldn’t tell an athlete to stop competing if they lose one game, would you? You wouldn’t tell a musician to give up playing an instrument because they missed a note during one concert, right? Of course, you wouldn’t. That same advice applies to you. You’re going to have instances in your career in ministry where you’re going to fall short. You’re not always going to be at your best. You’re going to struggle, but that shouldn’t stop you from continuing to pursue the calling God has placed on your life. When you find yourself on the other side of a “bad sermon,” use it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve, rather than taking it as discouragement or a reason to doubt the gifts and abilities your Heavenly Father has given you.
I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me when someone has shared these pieces of encouragement with me throughout the course of my ministry. Wherever you find yourself in your ministry today, I hope these reminders will be an encouragement and a challenge to you to keep pressing forward and to take the necessary steps that only you can take so that your ministry and your church continue to thrive and flourish.