Ministry is busy. There’s preparation to do, visits to make, evangelism to prepare, leaders to lead, potential leaders to mentor, strategy to strategise, new books to read, oh yeah and squeeze preaching in somewhere, and I nearly forgot prayer (Wow! Remembered just in time, to pray for my ministry. Saved myself some guilt there). That’s the way many pastors operate. But what’s missing?
Too many pastors starve themselves to feed others. We can’t share with others what we don’t have ourselves. Too often the temptation is to minister to others at the expense of ourselves. So we study the Bible to prepare for others, rarely do we get alone with God and his word and ask what are you saying to me? Who are you? What should I learn and love about you today that I didn’t know or had forgotten in the press of yesterday?
Too often we pray for others and spend little time praying for ourselves, weighing our hearts, motives, treasures, loves, passions and priorities. Too little time simply enjoying God and responding to him in praise – yes sometimes joyfully, nosily and exuberantly (that’s why I hate the term quiet time!!!! – wrestles to put soap box away without standing on it).
And where does that lead? That leads to burn out, eventually. But first and perhaps more insidiously it leads to a loveless ministry. Ministry becomes what I do rather than the overflow of the privilege of serving the God I love and am getting to love more. And I think that shows in the way we minister, in the subtle shift to manipulation instead of worship, guilt as motivation instead of grace, ministry as to do rather than grateful overflow.
Pastor a simple plea: don’t starve yourself to feed others. Fight yourself and others for time with God when you are his child wanting to know him not his minister wanting to fulfil your calling.
Churches a simple question to ask your pastor: how can we help you thrive in your relationship with and enjoyment of God? He’ll probably try to avoid the issue, maybe he hasn’t even thought about it. So, here’s what you do. Ask the question then ask him to pray about it and think about it and take him for coffee, or ask the elders to ask him and take him for a meal to discuss the answer.