How will you stand when all the forces of Hell fight to run you off from the ministry to which God has called you? Here are 10 principles that will keep you in God’s will.
2 Timothy 4:16–17 “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
The Apostle Paul learned to walk with God when His foes attacked him, and his friends forsook Him. He was able to finish his course and keep the faith. We can do the same with God’s help.
I spend my life trying to help people find God’s will and do it. It’s exciting to see the hand of God move in lives as He reveals His calling and place of service to a surrendered life. However, submitting to God’s will is half the battle. Now, you have to stay in it until you see the Lord!
Serving God in the ministry is simultaneously the most wonderful privilege and the most difficult burden. You will see God accomplish incredible feats, but you will see satan win needless victories. You will see the view from the mountain tops, but you must walk through the valley of the shadow of death to get there. You will witness miracles of resurrection power, but you will weep as some commit spiritual suicide.
A pastor has the privilege of seeing people at their best, yet also at their worst. What will you do when those who love you turn against you? How will you respond when you become the enemy simply by telling the truth? Where will you turn when the happy dream of God’s will turns into a nightmare?
Whatever you do, don’t quit! Don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Stay in God’s will and trust Him to see you through. You can make it with God’s help!
Let me give you ten principles that have saved my ministry multiple times. They will help you as well.
1.Do whatever it takes to stay close to God.
Learn to take your own spiritual temperature. Know the warning signs when you start to drift from God. It is easy to get worn out from much service or to get comfortable when things are going great. Both situations are dangerous.
Don’t allow your time with God to diminish. Refuse to give yourself permission to be lazy. Fight the pull of the flesh to lower your personal standards of holiness.
When you feel yourself begin to drift, recommit to God. Pray as long as it takes. Study the Word until it burns like a fire in your bones. Confess and forsake any known sin. Ask God to search your heart and reveal the presumptions sins.
I can point to at least three instances where a personal all-night prayer meeting has saved my ministry. If you stay close to God, He will empower you to conquer any foes you face.
2. You haven’t tried everything until you’ve prayed and fasted.
Mark 9:29 “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
Discourage preachers say, “I’ve tried everything, and it’s just not working.” Then they begin to think God is done with them as they see the grass is greener somewhere else. A wise old farmer said, “The grass looks greener on the other side because there’s more manure over there.” That’s wisdom!
Stop wishing you were somewhere else and grow where God planted you.
Some problems can only be overcome with prayer and fasting. Fasting is a lost doctrine in most churches today. Nevertheless, God still honors it uniquely.
Decide that you are going to skip some meals and pray instead. Show God that you need Him more than food. Let every hunger pain be a groaning prayer to God of your sincere and desperate need of Him!
When’s the last time you fasted and prayed?
3. Decide why you will leave when things are going well.
You won’t always think straight in the middle of a battle. That’s not a good time to make life-changing decisions.
After you have had a great weekend, sit down and write out the circumstances under which you will leave your ministry. At that moment you can think clearly to write Biblical principles to live by. Let them be your guide.
4. Don’t leave when times are tough.
It’s amazing how often “God begins to move” a preacher when he’s fighting a battle. Don’t fall for that old snare of Satan. A leader doesn’t have the luxury of running from his problems.
Decide to stay at least until the battle is over and the ministry is strengthened. Don’t leave a mess for the next guy. If you leave the matter unresolved, that same deacon, church member, or doctrine will be there for the next man to fight.
Stop trying to figure out if God is moving you and do the work of the ministry. God will work again. He will win the victory.
It’s amazing how often God stops moving someone to a new ministry once the trouble is past.
Trust me. When the battle is over, and things are going better, you’ll be glad you didn’t jump ship.
5. Remember that God put you there to deal with problems.
Titus 1:5 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”
God put Titus in Crete to help them. Those people were a mess! Here’s a list of things God mentions that He expected Titus to deal with:
- False Doctrine
- Vain Talkers
- Evil beasts
- Slow bellies
- Commandments of men
Wow! That sounds like a modern Baptist Church!
Every church is full of saved sinners. Every community is full of unbelieving sinners. Sin means pain, sorrow, hurt, suffering, and problems.
Preacher, you are there to help with those things. Don’t run from them. If your church didn’t have any problems, they would need you.
You are God’s representative to lead them to righteousness. Stop complaining and start helping.
6. Confront carnality with spirituality.
Sinners and backsliders play by different rules. They will fight you in the flesh. They will lie, gossip, cheat and yell. Carnal Christians get caught up in personality, money, and the law. The average church never even looks at the by-laws or constitution unless someone wants to fight the preacher.
Don’t get caught up in the drama! Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Take the high road. Lead like Jesus. Walk in the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
7. Love people were they are and lead them to where they should be.
God loves us while we are sinners, but He doesn’t let us stay that way.
Don’t be part of the “Come as you are and leave as you came” crowd. Be a life-changing servant of God.
Love them with all of their sins and faults, but teach them to be like Jesus. Pray for conviction and transformation. The rebels will despise you, but those that you help will thank you for all eternity.
8. Preach the Word.
God’s Word changes lives. Preach it when it’s popular and when it’s unpopular. If you preach the whole counsel of God, it will sting every church member at some time or another.
Never make calculations of what you will preach based on how your church members will respond to it. Preach the Truth and let God handle the details.
Never, never, never trim your message to keep people. Preach for an audience of One. Make God happy and trust Him to care for the consequences.
9. Do the work of the ministry.
It’s easy to get distracted in the midst of trials. Satan is happy to have you do good things at the expense of the best things.
Keep soul winning the main thing. Stay after sinners. Win people to Christ. Bring them to church. Help them walk the aisle for a public profession of faith. Baptize them in Jesus’ name. This will not only encourage your heart, but the church will have more to talk about than the problems.
Pastors spend too much time trying to help people that don’t want it. Restoration of backsliders is an important work of the ministry, but don’t let it consume you. Work with those that want help and watch what God can do.
10. Be faithful today.
There will be times when you wonder if you can make it. The largeness of the task and the depth of the problems will drain you. We have all said, “I don’t know how much longer I can take it.”
My wife lives in constant, debilitating pain. She has been suffering for 10 years. The road has been long, and the doctors give no hope for the foreseeable future. Our faith is in God to heal her or give us an abundance of grace to make it through. We don’t live day by day. We live hour by hour and often moment by moment.
But praise be to God that He has taught us this wonderful truth. Just be faithful today. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we know Who holds tomorrow. If we can make it through today, His mercies will be new in the morning.
Lamentations 3:22–23 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
This truth will save your ministry. All you have to do is make it through today! Run, walk, shuffle, stumble, or crawl but keep on going.
Be faithful today. Put your head on your pillow tonight thanking God for His strength. Drift off to sleep knowing that God will meet you in the morning with fresh mercy, power, wisdom, and strength.
Perhaps you need these principles today because you are in the midst of the battle. Use them and trust God to sustain you.
Maybe you didn’t need this today because things are going great in your life. Do yourself a favor and bookmark this page for the future. If you stay in the ministry long enough, you will need them.
Do you have a story or a thought to share? Leave it in the comments below.