The Third Four (of 16) Things I’ve Learned in Ministry

So, we’re going through this series looking at the top 16 things that I have learnt over the last 16 year of ministry, they are in no particular order, but in our video devotional series on YouTube we will be focusing on some of the detail a little bit more.

Here are the third 4 things (numbers 9, 10, 11 and 12):

1. Study is important.

One of the things that I’m often amazed at is how often people in ministry seem to thing that theological study is a waste of time. I remember knowing a senior pastor who had done no formal study in theology, in fact, I have done a diploma in theology, and used to joke with one of the other junior staff members who had done the same qualification, that we were the most theologically qualified people on staff – and it was true! Most of the people on that staff had been bankers, or accountants, or construction workers, or business owners, and had simply switched careers without doing any formal study.

I remember another man who was disappointed that he was passed over for a job in favour of another who had a Phd from Duke. The disappointed one – who’s a taxi driver – never thought that it was because he had no experience or qualification for the job!

In ministry we need to be able to think deeply about why it is that we do the things we do. We need to be able to offer sound biblical answers to the questions that people are asking, we need to make sure that we are being faithful to what the Bible is saying to us. Most importantly though, we need to be able to think for ourselves, and these are the sort of things that only come with educating yourself – that may be part time, or it may be by distance, but there needs to be some development of ourselves in this area. Don’t just read the same books or listen to the same speakers, challenge yourself to think deeper and read the people that you disagree with. You will be amazed at how much you will grow.

2. Distractions are everywhere and are always a problem.

This is a big one. In our world this is more true than ever. I have always been someone who is easily distracted. Even if it was before the internet – I know, I was alive then! – I could be taken off task by a book, or a conversation. Now it’s far easier! Make sure that you are present – there are things that you can do to ensure that – I can recommend ‘Deep Work’ as a good resource. I can also recommend some of the Habits that we have talked about on here previously.

3. You can’t please everyone.

This is one that is hard to get our heads around. I recall reading somewhere something that we incredibly profound about the decisions that we make. The writer said that every ‘yes’ that we say to something is also a ‘no’ that we speak to something else.

We must make sure that we count the cost of the decisions that we make – are they what God is calling me to do? Are they serving the people that I am leading (this includes family) well? Is it healthy for me emotionally, physically, or spiritually? Can I actually fit it in?

I have seen too many people burn out because they wanted to do it all at once. A great idea is to think, ‘if I say yes to this, what will I stop doing to make room for it?’

4. God works in the little, everyday things.

It always surprises me how the little things add up to massive things. It also surprises me how often God shows up each day faithfully. He is there helping us to make each decision, wanting to guide the small steps that we make to grow His kingdom. That is what it all comes down to, He is the one that will grow His kingdom, we get to partner with Him, but ultimately it will be our ability to rest on Him in the little things that will determine our longevity and our success.

I have seen God turn up in people being available to chat at the right times, in a photo copier being fixed, in an email coming through at the right time, in a deadline being shifted at the last minute, in someone not being available, and someone else being available. All of these things add up to God doing His work, and us getting to enjoy it.

Next week we will look at the last of the 16 things. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series and found it helpful. I would be willing to put out some more, and more detailed material on this if you guys are keen, but you’ll need to let me know!

Question: What is the most surprising thing that you have found in your ministry experience?

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