1. Disconnect From Those You Lead

 Your most-needed trait in ministry is relevance.   When your spiritual “sound” does not harmonize with the daily life of those you lead, a subconscious wall goes up in the heart.  People will agree with the message but not internalize it for life change.  That’s because the people spend all week neck-deep in the world’s activity; too many ministers are tucked safely away from it.  [pullquote position=”right”]Live by this phrase: “Be stubbornly relevant”.  Intentionally be where your people are. Your connection, and their transformation, relies upon it.[/pullquote]  

2. Work?

There is an incredible tendency in the ministry to get soft.  It’s true.  Work (the get-your-hands-dirty, 12-hour-workday, don’t-stop-for-lunch kind) can become foreign.  We are so used to assigning to do the work that we can train ourselves right out of it.  (See point 1).  I am convinced that every minister should be personally responsible for at least 20% of his or her needed income.  When in Corinth, Paul made tents with the tent-makers since it was his trade.  Then, on every Sabbath, he was reasoning in the synagogue.  Let’s all follow his example.

3. Entitlement

It happens to all of us – you do something long enough and you just expect certain things.  Full-time ministers expect to be paid.  Sounds reasonable until you realize that every dime comes from completely voluntary donations.  The great temptation rises to see people as ones who owe us.  If they don’t give, we feel justified in directing our attention elsewhere.  We forget why we do what we do.

4. It’s a Job.

Turning a calling into employment is tricky business.  [pullquote position=”right”]Many well-intentioned people with real callings enter the ministry with vision of the Kingdom being advanced.  Soon that vision shrinks to 9am-4pm office hours, 2 weeks vacation and a health insurance plan.[/pullquote]  Imagine the disciples in Acts with such a mindset.  Employees do not turn the world upside down.  Laying hold of what Christ laid hold of us for is our life, not a job.

5. Minister where the Money is. 

That’s why there is usually a monthly or annual outreach project and multiple weekly church services.  Outreach costs money and usually targets the less fortunate (who don’t put much in the offering plate).  But, if we structure our services just right and preach a certain message, the affluent will be attentive.  The sower threw seed on all four types of soil knowing only one would produce greatly.  [pullquote position=”right”]Sow your seed, without prejudice and without measure and you will always have what you need.[/pullquote]

6. Greener Pastures

The average pastoral tenure is less than 4 years.  This is a travesty, the result of seeing our calling as a job.  It’s time to see the church the way the Father does—His family.  In that context, church leaders are fathers and mothers.  Imagine if the average tenure of a father of an actual family was less than 4 years.  Imagine society’s increased dysfunction.  When leaders committed long-term as fathers and mothers to church families, the result is stable church homes sending countless sons and daughters to those greener pastures.   Imagine the spiritual momentum created in the earth.  No more starting, stopping and starting again, but consistently sending of the fruit of our spiritual loins.  Imagine the legacy, the harvest.

7. They’re just Sheep.

No, they’re our Father’s children who have the same access to Him that we do.  We should never assume that they don’t understand Him or spiritual things like we do.  These beautiful people are to be equipped by us to go and do what we cannot.  Their maturity and Christ-likeness is our finish line.

8. I’m the most important person in the room.

No, Jesus is.  Always.  The microphone and the title do not legitimize the drawing of attention to yourself.  People will want your time and attention.  The best service we can offer them is directing them to the Lord.  He is their teacher, He is their Holy Spirit, He is their Father.  [pullquote position=”right”]Never take the place of Him.  You cannot handle the responsibility.[/pullquote]

9. Ministry Before Love.

The world will know Jesus by our love for one another.  Not for our preaching, not for our jaw-dropping worship, not even for our healing ministry.  They will know Him by our love for one another.  Model this.  Senior Pastor – would you die for your leadership team?  Associate Pastor – would you lay down your life for your senior pastor?  [pullquote position=”right”]Would you sell your house, cash in your retirement or write the big check to meet your worship leader’s need?  If any of these give you pause, it’s time to reevaluate.[/pullquote]  I’m completely serious.  This is what it meant to Peter when he said to love the brotherhood.  Go back and read how they loved one another in Acts, how Paul spoke of love in his letters.  This is true ministry.

10. My life is MY life.

Not anymore.  Full-time ministry, the biblical kind, is all in.  [pullquote position=”right”]Everything we have, everything we are, our whole life, becomes ministry.  Whatever we hold back stifles our ministry.  Whatever we hide pollutes it.  Whatever we’re lazy about weighs it down.[/pullquote]  

If we want to see the vision on our heart realized, we will have to go all-in: loving spiritual sons and daughters like our natural ones, loving our church as our actual family.  All-in looks like “don’t pay me this week so we can get our bills paid” when money is tight.  All-in looks like our house full of beautiful, hurting, energetic people who we are raising up to overshadow us.  All-in looks like weeping before the Lord in the middle of the night on behalf of our people.  All-in is all of us, for all of them.

In love,

Mark