Last week I listed 7 preacher landmines – hidden explosives that can do untold damage to your ministry. Being aware of the dangers is a very significant first step. But what else can we do once we identify the dangers in our path? Here are seven quick suggestions to help clear the way in our ministry:
1. Prayerfully ask God to highlight your personal dangers – While any of us can struggle in any area, we tend to have personal weak spots that we should be especially aware of. Rather than prodding around in your own heart, invite God into the conversation since He is the expert in you.
2. Accept that your path will never be fully cleared in this life – Hopefully this post will be a small help in clearing some of the dangers ahead of us, but know that you will never have a fully clear path. You will need to be prayerful every step of the way in your ministry.
3. Do not travel alone – Too many preachers get into a lonely cycle of doing ministry without the travel companions that they need. We are not designed to be lone rangers. Invite your spouse, and some ministry colleagues, and some personal friends, to get in close and be real with you. Ask them what they think your risk factors are. Ask them to pray with you, and give them the freedom to be honest with you at any point. Don’t just be accountable, be stimulated through real connection.
4. Fan the flames of your spiritual life – Never settle for a Martha mentality when the Mary option is always there. That is, don’t settle for saying, “I am loving Christ by serving others,” when you should be saying, “I must love Christ and sit at His feet in order to be able to serve others.” When our gaze drops from Christ to ministry then our feet start to step close to pride, to prayerlessness, to fatigue, to lust, etc.
5. Stay fit for service – Without becoming distractedly obsessive, take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get enough quality sleep, get out and exercise regularly, eat as if you want your body to be able to function both today and in years to come. Be sure to take your day off. Relax with family and friends. Laugh. Open up. Replenish.
6. Pray and plan to grow as a preacher – There is nothing worse than listening to a preacher who thinks they learned enough years ago. Feeling plateaued is a warning that you are close to pride, laziness, etc. How does God want you to grow as a preacher in the next few years? Is it preaching skill that you should pursue? Is it a greater vision of Him that you need for this season of life? Is it investing in some younger preachers that will give you the edge?
7. Orient your heart for life without preaching – I don’t mean plan to step on a landmine. I mean take the time to contemplate life without preaching, because your identity is not ultimately in your preaching ministry. It is in your union with Christ. Throat cancer could stop your ministry this week. Your spouse might need your full-time care without warning. Any number of legitimate things could stop your preaching ministry. Ask God to get your heart to a place where such a change wouldn’t wipe out all sense of identity for you. Ultimately you are not a preacher, you are His.
What would you add? Maybe you have specific ideas for specific landmines? Please share with the rest of us.