Staying Fresh–and Refreshed–in Ministry

While some people stay energized through a lifetime of demanding ministry, others seem to get seriously stuck. What makes the difference?

Let me introduce you to some people (names changed) who project a certain confidence in being, well, stuck.

  • Rev. Bennett stopped reading ministry magazines and journals twenty years ago. “Why would I read that stuff?” he asked. “I could write every one of the articles myself—and twice as good as those simpletons.”
  • Brenda used her church’s funds to attend a youth ministry conference. But, after the first session, she spent all her time in her hotel room and the coffee shop. “I know more than those lame speakers,” she said.
  • Someone invited Cynthia to a ministry forum on homosexuality. She declined, saying, “Why would I go to that? I already know my opinion on that issue.”
  • A businessman in the church handed Ben a new book on leadership. Ben thanked him but promptly shelved the book. “What ministry credentials could that author possibly have?” Ben asked.

This kind of know-it-all arrogance grinds ministry to a stale halt. And it leads to bitter, cynical, burned-out, stuck ministers.

Want to avoid this sad stagnation? Want to stay fresh? Want to feel refreshed? Be a life-long learner. Resolve to enter each day with the question, “What can I learn today?”

Let’s see how our four previously mentioned characters could approach their various situations—as learners rather than closed minds.

  • Rev. Bennett: Read with a curious heart. Recognize that every writer possesses a distinct background, experience base, and unique perspective—from which you can benefit.
  • Brenda: Listen to those you consider below you. Look, with an open heart, for that one nugget you can gain from those God places in your path.
  • Cynthia: Eagerly go out of your way to entertain views that differ from your own. No one learns anything by insulating and isolating.
  • Ben: Pursue opportunities to learn from those outside your profession or tribe. The freshest ideas often come from those in an entirely different place.

Don’t go stale. Allow God to make all things new—every day.

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5, The Message.

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Thom Schultz
Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.