Sunday, July 21, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeAll The News15 Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Ministry

15 Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Ministry

By Thom Rainer

One of the members of the Church Answers community started a discussion that I absolutely loved. After some lengthy prefatory comments, he asked the community: “When things are tough and you feel like you have no more to give, what are some of the things that keep you moving forward?”

His post created a great discussion. I jumped in with the realization that I have been in vocational ministry for over 40 years. Those 40 years are divided almost into equal thirds: pastor, seminary dean and CEO of a Christian resource company. Two quick thoughts hit me — I am old, and I’ve learned a few lessons.

For sure, I’ve made many mistakes. I hope I’ve learned from these mistakes more than I have repeated them.

• The spiritual disciplines are not only acts of obedience for me, they are also necessary for my spiritual and emotional survival. When I am not praying, reading the Word or sharing the gospel, I am more likely to be discouraged and even despondent.

• An optimistic (hope and faith-based, of course) attitude seems to be a differentiating factor for many in ministry who persevere.

• True friends are priceless anywhere, and particularly in ministry.

• It’s even better that my sons and my wife are my best friends.

• Comparison to others in ministry is an emotional killer. Don’t do it.

• Laughter is a key trait to longevity.

• Apologize and ask for forgiveness quickly.

• Don’t be snarky and critical, especially on social media.

• Most crises are not true crises. Give it a week or so, and your perspective will change.

• Don’t make major decisions when you are tired.

• Don’t denigrate others. It is a sign of your own insecurities.

• Silence is often the best response.

• Love the church where God has you. The members are not perfect, but neither are you.

• Work hard and work smart. Others are watching you. Set the example.

• Don’t forget God’s call on your life and your ministry. It will be the single factor that keeps you going at times.