Home Pastors Articles for Pastors The Top Disciplines That Help Me Survive the Daily Grind of Ministry

The Top Disciplines That Help Me Survive the Daily Grind of Ministry

Discipline #2: Read God’s Word Slowly, Thoughtfully and Regularly

James W. Sire has an excellent book called How to Read Slowly. Instead of blazing through God’s Word in 12 months to try to get another “I read the Bible in a year” honor badge, try reading it in two or even three years.

For a short while I made the switch to reading the Bible every day on my iPad. There were some great things about this switch, including being able to easily read the words of Scripture on a bright screen, especially in the early morning hours when you’re eyes are still adjusting.

But, for me, the drawbacks outweighed the benefits.

Reading a hard copy of Scripture gives me the opportunity to write in the margins, underline, highlight and easily cross-reference. It also helps me to master my Bible by being able to find specific passages of Scripture by look and feel. This kind of mastery doesn’t as readily happen with an iPad. For more on making the switch back from an iPad check out this article.

Regardless of how you choose to read God’s Word, read it. Read it slowly, thoughtfully and daily. Let God speak to you through his amazing book and then put those lessons into practice through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.

Discipline #3: Doing Tons of Fun Stuff With My Family

Early on, I told my kids this, “As a traveling evangelist, your daddy’s gonna be gone a lot. But I promise one thing…you are going to have an unforgettable childhood.” 

I’ve been able to take my family on a preaching tour throughout Europe and on ministry trips to most of the 50 states. Whenever I preach in L.A. or Orlando, we often get Disneyland/world on the docket for the day(s) before or after my preaching gig.

To be honest it’s not that I can afford to do all this, it’s that, with my schedule, I can’t afford NOT to do it (sorry for the triple negative there.) With as much as I’m gone on ministry trips, I want to make sure I make every opportunity to create times where we just have a blast together as a family.

Many times, it’s as simple as us hopping into our Jeep Liberty and driving up to the mountains (we live in Colorado) for a quick day trip or weekend getaway. My family has come to call these times “forced family fun.”

My prayer is that my wife and kids are never embittered by my trips, but rather energized by them.

I’ll never forget my son telling my daughter (who was upset I was leaving on a ministry trip a few years ago), “Kailey, we get rewarded to by God for how much daddy has to travel. God will reward us for sacrificing time with him when he is on the road, so that lost souls can be saved.” 

So true.

But the ongoing discipline of having tons of fun times with my family (which quality time just shakes out of) is the best bitterness preventative medicine that can be prescribed.

Discipline #4: Prayer Walks in My Own “Garden of Gethsemane”

When Jesus spent three hours of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-52, he poured out his heart to God in utter brokenness and desperation. It’s a passage literally full of blood, sweat and tears as Jesus awaited the horrors of the cross that were just around the corner.

I don’t know what you are going through, but I can guarantee you this, it’s nothing compared to what Jesus suffered that night in the Garden. I have never felt so much pressure that I sweated blood out of my pores.

But Jesus did just that. And when he stood up after three hours of intensive prayer, having tapped out to God’s will in the Octagon of the Garden, he was ready for what awaited him.

Whatever stresses are weighing on us we can join Jesus in our own personal Garden of Gethsemane to work it out with the Father in prayer. What a privilege this is!

For me this means finding parks around my city where I can walk and pray. When I feel the pressure of that situation (finances, relationships, strategies, projects, etc.) I pull the car over and find my own personal Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t get back into the car until the burden has been rolled off of my shoulders to the foot of the Throne and the peace of God that passes all understanding has replaced it.

This is my consistent habit. I challenge you to employ your own version of it.