I would hope that sometime during the last 16 years of full-time ministry I’ve picked up a thing or two on what it means be successful in ministry. Recently, I spent some time to look back and collect my thoughts/experiences into 5 things that have helped me succeed in ministry. I’ve shared those five things with the incredible staff I get to work with everyday. Now I’d like to share them with you:
1. Lead From the Trenches – are you leading from the front or from behind?
A successful leader in ministry is not a general, remotely issuing orders from the safety of his office. He’s more like a lieutenant or colonel, the first one leading his troops when they charge the enemy trenches. I’ve worked extremely hard at learning names and faces (of members and guests), tearing down ministerial barriers that separate clergy and laity, and doing the small things that many wouldn’t expect a pastor to do. I want to lead from the front, not from behind.
2. Treasure Your Team – how are you adding value to your team?
A pastor is only as successful as the team he leads (paid or volunteer) for the simple fact that successful ministry is much bigger than one person can handle. For a pastor to be successful, his team has to be successful. That means simple things like always putting people before programs, playing with your team and constantly making them better. If I’m not adding value to my team, I’m not treasuring them.
3. Cast a Compelling Vision – is your vision bigger than you are?
Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s my job as a pastor to help people get swept up in the greater vision and purpose of God. To do that, I have to be able to tell great stories, because stories communicate vision. I have to always make the vision bigger than the people I lead. And I have to help people connect the dots on how they specifically are a part of the greater story. One of the biggest things that has helped me succeed in ministry is my ability to grab hold of and cast a vision that is much bigger than I am.
4. Grow Every Day– what are you doing today that will benefit you a year from now?
This is the grind. This is the work. This is the hours spent in study, improving my sermons. This is the willingness to invite meaningful feedback from others to critique and constructively criticize my messages. Excellence has to be a constant pursuit. I can always get better. And I have to be willing to collaborate and experiment, to try and fail and try again. I need to plant seeds of growth today that will benefit me a year from now.
5. Live From the Overflow – are you running on fumes or living from the overflow?
Jesus says it clearly in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If I don’t abide in the vine, my ministry will be ultimately fruitless. That means putting family first before my ministry. That means making my body a temple and ensuring that I am in the best possible health not only spiritually, but physically, mentally, and emotionally.
That’s an overview of what I shared with my team. I have specific ways to live out the 5 things that I’ll share in future posts as time allows.