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.