Ten Tips for Staying Balanced in Ministry

My word to those of us engaged in ministry is, keep a healthy balance. Here are ten tips I’ve found helpful . . .

Balance
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  1. Because you teach, also remain a good student. Stay teachable.
  2. Read more.
  3. Listen better (especially to your spouse).
  4. Be ready to change. And change!
  5. Admit wrong where you are wrong.
  6. Stand firm when you know you are right (but be nice).
  7. Because you are called to be a leader, follow well.
  8. You cannot do it all, so delegate.
  9. You have a big job to do, so let others help you do it. And when they do it well, make sure they get the credit.
  10. The ministry is serious work, so keep a good sense of humor.

Here’s a bonus tip: take God seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.

Two Things God Remembers about His Servants

Hebrews 6:10 is my all-time favorite verse about how God faithfully takes special note of those who serve Him.

Man
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For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

Consider that verse! God is not unjust to forget our service to Him. He is faithful. The verse goes on to tell two things God faithfully remembers about His servants:

A Chance to Start Over This Year

One of the most encouraging things about a new year is the word new. It means “unfamiliar . . . made or become fresh . . . different from one of the same category that has existed previously,” says Webster.

New Year
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Simply put, it’s a place to begin anew.

Starting over requires knowing where you are. Honestly admitting your present condition. Facing the music.

Remember Jonah? Somewhere down the line, he got his inner directions cross-wired. He wound up, of all places, on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea bound for a place named Tarshish. That was due west.

But God had told him to preach to Nineveh. That was due east.

Jonah never got to Tarshish, as you remember. Through a traumatic chain of events, Jonah was forced to get his head together in the digestive tract of a gigantic fish.

A Christmas Intervention

Did you feel the tightening squeeze this time of year brings? On top of an already demanding schedule of preaching, teaching, counseling, and calling, you had to add Christmas parties and programs, a creative Christmas series that you’ve never preached before—and still another eloquent sermon for the Christmas Eve service.

Christmas
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Such a schedule has a tendency to turn us into Scrooge-like characters, doesn’t it? (We secretly think: Humbug!) Work, work, work . . . nothing and no one will get in our way.

May I assume the role of one of old Scrooge’s ghosts for you? Let me escort you to your home. Peer into the window. Look closely. Is your chair empty at the dinner table?

My Advice to You This Christmas

If I may borrow from Charles Dickens’s famous opening line, Christmas can be “the best of times, and the worst of times.” As pastors, we have them both, don’t we?

Christmas

Who hasn’t cringed in September as stores drag out and display the artificial Christmas trees? Who hasn’t felt uneasy about the obligatory exchange of gifts with individuals you hardly know?

Something about those annual experiences can make them seem like “the worst of times.”

But they don’t need to be.

A Season for Humble Gratitude

It’s baaaack! The age-old yuletide season is about to slip in the door once again. Better not shout, better not pout, for the malls will be playing “Jingle Bells” several thousand times between now and December 25.

Christmas
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If you’re not careful, the crowds and commercialism will weigh you down like that fourth helping of stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner.

And there’s nothing worse than a jaded attitude that resists the true spirit of the season.

Although this has been a challenging year in numerous ways, we have a practical reason to look back over it with gratitude for God’s protection and grace.

This reflection sets in motion the ideal mental attitude to carry us through the weeks ahead.

Looking at the Big Picture . . . and Finding Hope

Before you preach again on the birth of Jesus, it might be best for you to lay it aside and start from scratch. The Christmas story has been so sanitized and romanticized over the centuries that even Hollywood—as jaded a culture as can be found anywhere—fails to capture the gritty pathos that surrounded Jesus’s arrival.

Nativity
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Truth be told, even some churches annually idealize the birth of our Savior. Yet it was anything but ideal.

Without question, 6 BC was a lousy time to live in Judea. Herod the Great had seized the throne of Israel through bloody intrigue and with political support from Rome.

The Integrity Assault

Our jobs as pastors are not without work-site hazards. We don’t wear hard hats, of course, but maybe we should!The hazards I’m speaking of are those within our hearts.

Pastor
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One of the greatest of these is what I call “the integrity assault.”

I believe our integrity is assaulted when we yield to the temptation to allow our position—and the privileges that come with it—to lower our standard and to weaken our witness.

Three Promises Regarding Our Faithfulness

In several places through the New Testament, there are statements of promise from God to faithful servants. I’m thinking of three in particular: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

More Promises
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Note: “your toil is not in vain.”

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:9–10)

Note: “we will reap.”

God’s Promises for His Servants from Revelation

Among the best-loved promises Christians have as their ultimate hope, two are found in the book of Revelation. Here’s the first set of promises:

Promises from God
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Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1–4)

The second set of promises is equally inspiring: