One of my greatest desires in life was playing a major role in kingdom ministry through the use of God given gifts and talents. Over the years, this desire continues to permeate as it is paramount to my ministerial endeavors. Being in full-time ministry was yet another desire, although I understood that getting there would be a process. Being faithful in the assignment which was before me was crucial. As leaders at times we may get a bit impatient when it comes to waiting upon the Lord to reveal a new assignment. There are things, however, that we are not able to do simply because we are not ready. Perhaps it may be a season in which the Lord is preparing you for something greater. I feel that we sometimes covet being discovered more over being developed; we must learn to embrace our current season.
Cultivating a healthy ministry early on is quintessential to one’s overall success in ministry. I have learned that all healthy things grow; therefore, we must be in constant growth as leaders. The challenges we face are engineered by God to cultivate personal growth. Healthy followers, healthy congregants, and healthy families are the byproduct of healthy shepherding. Although ministry is rewarding and a wonderful blessing, it may also entail living through pain. These ministry pain triggers may be caused by loneliness, criticism, and unrealistic expectations. Here are some principles we can implement in our ministry in order to sustain a healthy ministry.
1. Get an accountability partner (Galatians 6:1-2)
Servant leadership requires us to give our all for the Lord as well as others. But when do others give back to us, when do others speak into us? Ministry can be a very lonely road. Sadly, many pastors and other ministry leaders lack the support of someone they can trust or talk to concerning ministry issues. The pressure of ministry may be so much that, at times, we may need someone to walk with us through painful life events. So how exactly can we establish healthy rails within our ministry? Beside the Lord, our spouse should be our primary accountability partner. However, we must also find someone that we are able to talk to about anything and everything. This individual should be someone with spiritual maturity, someone who will love you enough to correct you when there is a need to do so; someone with whom you can be completely open, vulnerable, and accountable. When properly implemented in our ministerial life, these parameters will help prevent the frustrations which may arise. These principles have proven vital if ministry is to function in a healthy fashion. I am blessed to say that both my personal and ministry life have been enriched by having an accountability partner.
2. Create a prayer and intercessory team (2 Corinthians 1:11)
Accountability will bless you but prayer will sustain you. This is the one instance in your life you can be completely self-centered. As leaders we need all the prayer we can get, therefore creating a prayer-intercessory team is vital. Before creating my team, I began to pray asking for guidance regarding those who I needed to ask to join me. When choosing a team, one should choose individuals that have a lifestyle of prayer, people who will use discretion concerning your conversations, and people who genuinely care for not only your
personal growth, but also for that of your ministry. When I approached these individuals, they immediately and delightedly accepted my invitation as we had kindred spirits. While you might already have people praying for you and your ministry, it is important to come to a formal agreement so they can appreciate the significance it carries both to you and them. I communicate with my team through text and phone calls about prayer requests that I may have. I also keep them updated about my personal and ministry life about once every month. By doing this, I not only open doors to my personal and ministry life, but give them a sense of contribution to my ministry and reciprocate their blessings to my life.
3. A peer in ministry (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
We all are blessed with friends and family we can talk to about our ministry. But we may also encounter those who can be critical concerning our ministry because, they either do not fully comprehend the pressures of said ministry or because they are not in a ministry position. It is important to have a peer in ministry, someone who will understand where you are coming from. I, at this time, have a peer in ministry who is currently serving as a church pastor. When we meet we are able to have conversations about our ministries, and are always cautious to not speak ill about our church, our ministry, or other leaders. We use our time together to encourage and edify each other through the reading of the Word, through prayer, and by sharing biblical insight. It is also of utmost importance that this individual displays a high level of maturity and discretion concerning all of your conversations. The objective of a peer in ministry is to have someone who will contribute to your overall growth and development as a servant leader.
4. Relational oversight (Hebrews 13:17)
Relational oversight is quite significant to one’s ministry as stated in Hebrews 13:17, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” God has placed people over us who are committed to support our efforts as a pastor or ministry leader by providing protection, direction, encouragement, constructive feedback and accountability. If you don’t see the value in the person God has put over you, then you ought to not be there. We must embrace the pastors and leaders God has placed over us. Remember that if you want to be over others one day, you need to first learn to submit to someone else with integrity. Perhaps you might think that your leader is not honorable, remember that respect is earned, and honor is given. We must allow our oversights to speak into our lives as God has given them the authority (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Having a clear communication with your oversight is necessary if one wants to continue moving forward. I have personally had times where I don’t tell my oversight certain things because of fear but it always ends up being an adverse reaction. Clarity is influence and influence is leadership. Never undervalue your pastors and ministry leaders, love them, honor them, submit to them, and support them.
By: Hervin Antonio-Hidalgo