As Pastors and church leaders we must always minister from the overflow of our lives. What I mean is that there must be a constant inflow of the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the blessings of God to empower and equip us for the work of ministry. Simply put, if we rely on our own strength and abilities our lives will quickly run dry and our ministry will die. In John 15:5 Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” We should pay close attention to that last phrase, “for apart from me you can do nothing.” The moment we cease drawing our sustenance and power from Jesus, we fail in the ministry. We have nothing to offer apart from Christ, therefore, it is imperative that we draw constantly from our source of strength. Let me give you a few tips on how to maintain this connection in the midst of ministry:
1.) Carve out time to pray throughout the day- the truth is that most ministers I know, my self included, spend far too little time in prayer. Prayer is an essential for every believer but even more so for those who are in full-time ministry. Instead of planning on marathon prayer time during the day, try to carve out 3 or 4 times throughout the day when you pray. Maybe consider a half and hour in the morning, another right after lunch and then another period before you go to bed.
2.) Spend time in Bible study that is not in preparation for preaching- right now I am using a Bible study plan through the book of Jude that I found in Bible Study Magazine which is published by Logos Bible Study Software. The key here is to spend about an hour or so a day, simply studying the BIble for your own personal growth and development. This is not the same as studying for a sermon or Bible study that you will teach, but simply for the nourishment of your own soul.
3.) Spend time with your family- this is one of the most refreshing things you can do in the ministry and is a key for maintaining your own spiritual health as well as that of your family members. Here is an interesting article about the Pastor’s emotional health.
4.) Join a Small Group- as pastors we all know the importance of small groups in the spiritual growth of our members, but frankly most of us are not part of a group ourselves. Consider attending one of the Sunday School classes or small group meetings in your church, not as a teacher but as a student. It will be good for you and for your people.
5.) Listen to Other Preachers- not to steal their sermons but to hear a word from God and to grow in your own spiritual life. Download sermons on your Ipod and listen to them throughout the week. I like to do this while I am exercising.
Ministering from the overflow of your life is the key to surviving in the ministry. For those of you who are in the Bi-vocational ministry I would recommend reading Surviving and Thriving in Bi-vocational ministry. I also recommend my three part post on the Anatomy of a Ministry Meltdown, Recovering from a Ministry Meltdown, and Preventing a Ministry Meltdown.