Remember the feeling when you were called into ministry?
The dreams and visions of reaching the nations and making a difference in the world? Maybe you were at an altar somewhere, crying your eyes out with your friends. "Here I am, send me!"
Something happens between those young moments of emotion to years down the road of working in the local church. Maybe expectations are off. But those dreams of lives changed and preaching the Gospel get overwhelmed by empty events, administrative tasks, & service planning meetings.
Have we lost our focus?
I'm not here to bash the menial tasks. Ministry isn't only gospel proclamation to crowds in third-world countries and large-scale events. Or maybe you work for someone who you never see. You stepped into this role hoping to be discipled and it feels more like you're a hired slave.
How do we maintain a heart of ministry and not get jaded over the years of working in the local church?
Let me ask you a few questions.
- When was the last time you led worship with a fire in your bones?
- When was the last time you prayed as if your life depended on it?
- Has worship become more of a job description than a lifestyle?
7 Ways to Keep Your Heart Alive in a Dry Season
Here's a few ways to help combat the drift:
1. Adjust your Expectations: You might be expecting a certain "feeling" when it comes to ministry. You might be expecting large, engaged crowds of worshipers and preaching the gospel to receptive ears. Sometimes that is the case, and sometimes it feels like no one is paying any attention. Keep going. Anticipate the dull seasons. Anticipate the challenges. Don't give up.
2. Plan Your Week: If you feel stuck in ministry, look at your week and make sure you're still doing ministry. Does your calendar reflect the activity of a minister? If not, you may need to tweak what you're doing. Schedule time to plan your personal calendar and your team's calendar. Be intentional about discipleship. By looking at your team's event calendar, would you grow as a disciple of Jesus based on what is planned?
3. Protect Your Prayer Life: When life gets busy (which is all the time for people in ministry), our prayer lives often suffer. I mean, who has the time to pray when there are events to plan, visits to make, teams to schedule and songs to learn? Here's the deal: Without a thriving prayer life, you will dry up. Prayer keeps your attitude humble and your heart dependent, right where you need to be. Maintain a posture of crying out to God in successful seasons and depressing seasons.
4. Cast Vision for Tasks: Learn to cast kingdom vision for the most menial of tasks. Keep the big picture of the gospel in front of your eyes constantly. Everything from song selection to sweeping the floor needs to be approached with a kingdom mindset.
5. Focus on the Long Game: Have you thought about how healthy you want to be in 10 years? 20 years? Do you still want to be in ministry? And by that I don't necessarily mean full-time, vocational ministry. I want to have a healthy life, a burning heart and compassionate eyes no matter how long I do this. I don't want to grow cold. I don't want to become familiar with the gospel. So focus on the long game.
6. Make Time for People: Ministry would be easy if it weren't for the people, right? I kid, yes, but it's also true. What makes ministry ministry is the people we get to serve. The way we get to open our hearts to them. Always make time for people. No matter how busy and important you get, don't just hide behind your influence. Make time for the one.
7. Apply the Word of God: I know this sounds silly, but it's easy for us to get in the rut of preaching the Word of God but not living it. We use the Bible to get "words" for other people but haven't developed the habit of relying upon it for our very lives. Daily, position your life before the Word and pray, "Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (Ps. 86:11, NIV).
One of my favorite books for people in ministry is Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper. It's a call to radical ministry. It's a call to lay down your life.
I love this quote:
Is there professional praying? Professional trusting in God's promises? Professional weeping over souls? Professional musing on the depths of revelation? Professional rejoicing in the truth? Professional praising God's name? Professional treasuring the riches of Christ? Professional walking by the Spirit? Professional exercise of spiritual gifts? Professional dealing with demons? Professional pleading with backsliders? Professional perseverance in a hard marriage? Professional playing with children? Professional courage in the face of persecution? Professional patience with everyone?" —John Piper
May we not forget.
How do you keep your heart focused over the years? Let's talk it out in the comments.
David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This article originally appeared at davidsantistevan.com.
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