A SECRET TO LONGEVITY IN THE MINISTRY

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From the blog THE RESURGENCE

BY MARK DRISCOLL

Longevity in ministry is in part enabled by the Holy Spirit-enabled ability to find people continually and genuinely fascinating, writes Pastor Mark.

People are fascinating.

After 17 years of wonderfully hard years of ministry at the same church doing the same thing week after week—preaching the word of God and talking with people—something dawned on me: people are fascinating.

As a pastor, I get to hear people’s life stories. It’s rather incredible the kind of information people just walk up and tell me. And, it’s an honor to hear it.

For 17 years, I have met people every week from all stages of life, backgrounds, incomes, experiences, nations, and perspectives. Television pales in comparison to real people with real lives and real stories. Nothing is as interesting as the honesty of seemingly average people. The truth is, there is no average person. Everyone is unique, interesting, and surprising.

As one example, I recently had three people walk up to me, introduce themselves, and unpack their life without prompting.
The joyful, the devastating & the hopeful

The first was a young couple, married just that week, who were filled with joy and hope and covered with smiles. They were holding hands and asking for prayer. I laid hands on them both and prayed for them with great hope and joy. They closed their eyes but I snuck a peek to see the big smiles on their face as they leaned toward one another very much in love. I was overjoyed.

The next was someone who that same week received divorce papers from their spouse of many years and was asking for prayer through tears. I encouraged them as best I could, and tried not to push too deeply as they were on the brink of completely losing it and struggling to maintain composure amid the crowd. I was devastated.

Next, I had a man walk up to me, declare he had been committing adultery on his wife and they were in the process of a divorce, and he was planning on marrying his younger girlfriend. He continued to say that his father and grandfather had done the same thing. But, it had dawned on him this was a deep root of generational sin and, if he did not repent of it, it would take root in his sons and grandsons and also send him to hell since he was an unbeliever. He then asked if Jesus could save him, save his marriage, save his family, and save his legacy. I told him yes. And he believed it. He smiled and told me, “That’s great. Let’s do that.” So, we prayed to Jesus together. I then gave him directives for what repentance to his family looked like and he was completely receptive and eager to do what was right as the Holy Spirit flipped a switch in his heart in an instance. I was hopeful.
Ministry is about two things

People. Ministry is about Jesus and people. Jesus is amazing. People are fascinating.

I honestly love hearing the story of God’s grace woven into someone’s life. It is never predictable. It is always amazing and fascinating and devastating and encouraging. I am convinced that longevity in ministry is in part sustained by the Holy Spirit-enabled ability to find people continually and genuinely fascinating and loving to meet them no matter how awesome or awful their story might be. Once people surrender to Jesus, anything is possible, and so there is always hope even when everything seems hopeless. Admittedly, ministry can cause us to grow weary and lose heart (Heb. 12:3). It can be overwhelming, exhausting, discouraging, and devastating. But people are fascinating. Those who become bored with ministry often have simply stopped meeting people, because people are not boring—they’re fascinating.

To the young leaders who want to finish well remember this: Ministry is about Jesus and people. Jesus is amazing, and people are far too fascinating to ever be boring.

3 WAYS TO DEFEAT LEADERSHIP DISCOURAGEMENT

From Charles Stone comes this wise counsel-Steve

Discouragement comes with the territory for ministry leaders. Unmet goals, putting out fires, staff issues, displeasing people, and general tiredness all contribute to discouragement. When it weighs us down, how can we dig out?

The life of the prophet Elijah gives us hope.

I Kings 18-19 tells the story of his amazing confrontation with the prophets of Baal. The people of Israel had gathered on Mount Carmel along with 450 prophets of Asherah. They set up a sacrifice and the 450 pagan prophets summoned their gods to provide rain. Nothing happened. Then Elijah summoned the one, true God who showed His power by not only consuming the sacrifice but also ending the drought.

You’d think that after God showed up in such a powerful way, twice, that Elijah would be on a spiritual and emotional high. Not so. After these great victories, he ran for his life, thinking he was the only true prophet left.  He literally wanted to die. But God did not leave him alone. I Kings 19 explains how he cared for him.

Three lessons stand out about how we can defeat leadership discouragement.

3 Ways to Defeat Leadership Discouragement Dr. Charles Stone

  • First, prepare for an emotional dip after spiritual success. I’ve found that discouragement often follows a spiritual high. Among other reasons, it’s the body’s response to stress. Mondays are often the most discouraging days for pastors after an intense Sunday. Prepare for this inevitability.
  • Second, physically rejuvenate. After Elijah wanted to die, God provided food for him through an angel and had him take two long naps. After a spiritual high, take care of your body to give it time to re-energize. Extra sleep, healthy food, exercise, and doing something fun can help you recover.
  • Third, still your soul to hear God’s gentle voice. After Elijah fled, God spoke to him in a “whisper.” Often Satan will attack us most after spiritual victories with condemning and tempting thoughts. When he does, turn your heart to the Lord and listen to His quiet, yet encouraging voice.

What has helped you defeat discouragement?