Being a pastor is a privilege and I am grateful I get to spend my life serving people in the context of the local church. Growing up, though, I imagined that working at church was a dreadful way to spend your life. I was wrong. While it is a blessing to be called “pastor”, there are three key elements that must be in place for this calling to be fulfilling to me. Without any one of them, ministry in the local church becomes a burden that can literally overwhelm me.
1. Ministry must be innovative
Innovation makes ministry fun and keeps me coming back to the church office everyday excited about the new thing that God is doing. Ministering ancient truths with new ideas and methods fends off the boredom and routine that can settle on a church that is resistant to change or in love with the old wine. I am rarely the one that comes up with the new ideas, but I love the tribe of innovators that surround me at New Life and I love the energy from heaven that is released when we simply ask the question – “Is there a better way to do this?”
2. Ministry must be for the Kingdom
This is not about the fame of people or of an institution. Notoriety is an addictive drug and the only cure is humility. We must stay committed to making Jesus famous and not ourselves. This is not about mega book deals, although I love to write books. This is not about getting on the conference speaking circuit, although I love to host and attend conferences. Most of us came into ministry with pure motives only to be ensnared by narcissism, greed or pride. Ministry must be for the benefit and growth of God’s kingdom on the earth and not for the benefit of our own personal empire.
3. Ministry must be done with friends
I like to work with my friends. I usually hire my friends. I make no apologies. Ministry is too hard without friends around you to help carry the burden. When I came to New Life two years ago, a few friends came with me and literally helped me survive the first 24 months. Now, I am becoming friends with the team I inherited and my ministry has moved from surviving to almost thriving. Friends make a huge difference. Without them, the mountain seems impossible to climb, but with them. you feel like you can slay giants.
Are you fulfilled with the calling God gave you? If not, maybe you have stopped being innovative? Maybe it has become too much about you and not enough about God. Maybe, you need to bring some friends around you to help carry the burden.
August 21, 2009 at 6:53 am
Brady…I have always loved your relational approach to ministry…I love how you keep it simple, real, and about friendships…
August 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm
We’ve loved having you as our pastor. You’ve been a breath of fresh air and we have been impressed with how you have walked through your first couple years with us. Sorry it was so drama filled. We love your heart and look forward to many more years with you….
Have you read The Shack by W.M. Paul Young yet? It’s an absolute must read.
August 26, 2009 at 7:47 am
You mention being “resistant to change” and “falling in love with the old wine,” (love that last line). I have watched many a leader weary and strain under the weight of a ministry they are trying to direct a certain way. Ministry is time consuming and demands our dedication, but it only becomes a weight when we try to carry it ourselves, as opposed to letting God carry and direct it. Being open to wise council and fresh ideas from others (coupled with discernment and wisdom and prayer) keeps ministry from becoming “me-driven” and ensures it stays “God-driven.”
And many a leader can derail a ministry in a short time when there is an unwillingness to hand over the reins, to pass leadership at the right time. I’ve almost fallen into this trap of holding too tightly, of assuming, “Well, I’m the one God put here… so, I’m SURE that I’M who He would KEEP here.” Listening to the whisper of the Holy Spirit (or sometimes the holler)… AND OBEYING… is key in handing off responsibility. (I’m not saying that has shown itself at New Life at all. At. All. I’m just making the observation that it is, sadly, a huge downfall of many a ministry.)
August 26, 2009 at 7:48 am
And I obviously leave very long comments. =^)