5 Musts for Lasting in Ministry

This month is pretty special for me. I started the journey in fulltime ministry 29 years ago. In some ways, that seems as if it was a lifetime ago. In other ways, it seems like just yesterday. Many times, I sit back and say, “If I only knew then what I know today.” Although I can’t go back, rewind the tapes, and do some things over, I can share with others, and pray they don’t make similar mistakes, or take careless risks. So, if we were to sit down and chat with another ministry leader, here are my top five pieces of advice for lasting in ministry.

1. Know your “call” and document the steps.

Ministry is hard. That’s no surprise, because the enemy doesn’t want us around.  Pastoring is an awesome privilege, and your “call” should not be taken lightly. Of all of the occupations in the world, none has greater potential to change the destiny of lives than that of a pastor. With all that happens in fulltime ministry, discouragement is a strong tool the enemy uses on us. One of the things that keep me going, and helps to defeat discouraging times is remembering my “call” and the God stories that set (and kept) me on the path of steadfast ministry. Is your “calling” documented? Are the stories where the supernatural God intercepts your life recorded? I would encourage you to document these encounters for two reasons. The first is for you. When the enemy tries to discourage, you can look back at how God has been there for you. You see this all through the Old Testament.  The second is for your family. Telling these stories of God’s intervention to your family, kids, and grandkids is a legacy of faith.

2. Adjust to your leader.

Working under the guidance of five senior pastors doesn’t make me an expert on how to deal with your leader, but I have learned a lot from the men I have supported and served. I knew from the start I wouldn’t be a Senior Pastor. I knew I would always serve one. If you are like me and you are going to serve a Lead or Senior Pastor, learning to adjust to your Senior Pastor is critical. If they aren’t doing anything illegal, unethical, or unbiblical, then you need to figure out how you can come alongside of him and support him. God uses many different styles to win people to Christ through his church. Rick does things in ways I never would, which is why God chose him to be the Senior Pastor and not me! I am not suggesting that you follow blindly. Your job is not to take orders without question. Your job is to inform your Senior Pastor when you feel it is needed. After you have informed, then you act unconditionally on his leading from God. You talk it out in private, but are unified in public. Even though Rick does things the way I don’t; that is not the issue. If I don’t like something, I pray. If God wants it changed, He will change it.

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Steve Gladen has been on staff at Saddleback Church since 1998; he currently oversees the strategic launch and development of small groups at Saddleback as well as the staff of the Small Group Network. He has focused on small groups in several churches for almost 20 years. Steve oversees 2,500 adult small groups at Saddleback and loves seeing a big church become small through true community developed in group life. He has co-authored several books, including 250 Big Ideas for Small Groups, Building Healthy Small Groups in Your Church, Small Groups With Purpose, Leading Small Groups With Purpose, and Don't Lead Alone. Steve does consulting and seminars championing small groups and what it means to be Purpose Driven in a small-group ministry.