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I’m a pastor who is constantly learning how to do it better. In this blog post, I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned along the way. But first, I want to provide a caveat to my title. The caveat is that you have heard most of what you’ll read below, but the real issue is have you paid attention to what you’ve heard? So, in a sense, what I’ve listed below are some reminders for ministry to encourage you to keep pressing on toward God-honoring, Christ-exalting ministry.

1. Your ministry will not be easy:

If you think your ministry will be the exception, try to name one biblical character who was greatly used by God who did not suffer. Sorry to break the news…but suffering comes with the calling (1 Peter 3: 13-17).

2. Time for study will be an ongoing challenge:

Every day there will be a thousand urgent things that will compete for your attention. Do not sacrifice your sermon preparation on the altar of the urgent. Do what is most important! (1 Tim 4:6-8)

3. God’s Word is sufficient even when we are not:

Preach the text faithfully and you will be amazed at how God takes His sufficient Word and applies it to the hearts of your people. “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s best wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:25).

4. The rush for relevance will be a constant drain on you and your preaching:

Remember that we don’t make the Bible relevant. We open the text and show our people how relevant it already is. And if it is relevant, it is most certainly sufficient to change lives. As David says, it “converts the soul” (Psalm 19:7).

5. What you say is more important than how you say it, but how you say it has never been more important:

Be a constant learner and seek to improve your delivery. The Word we share is too important not to say it well. And the first key to effective delivery is to be well-prepared.

6. Pride is an ever present reality for the preacher:

You will battle pride throughout the course of your ministry. Remember that you are never as great a preacher or as poor a preacher as others say you are. And to be honest, it does not matter what others think about you or even what you think about yourself; what matters most is what God knows about you (Heb. 4:13).

7. You must concentrate on the depth of your walk with God and let God take care of the breadth of your work for Him:

This is so basic that it needs little explanation. Follow Paul’s example … glory in the Lord and let the Lord expand your ministry (2 Cor. 10:12-18).

8. When things can go wrong, they will go wrong … be faithful anyway:

Distractions are a part of life (and ministry too). Be disciplined and fulfill your ministry. Be the loyal soldier, the disciplined athlete and the hardworking farmer (2 Tim. 2:3-6).

9. People are not your enemy:

Our battle is not against “flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). Not every one of your church members is out to get you. If they don’t follow you, perhaps it is because they simply don’t understand. Of course, this is not always the case, but you must avoid the “them” against “me” mentality. You are not the victim.

10. Your family must be a priority:

If you lose your family you will lose your ministry (1 Tim. 3:4-5). Spend time with your kids and your spouse. Guard against allowing “church duties” to take you away from your dad and husband duties. Spend quality time with those who will grieve the most when you die.

Dr. Mark A. Howell has served as Senior Pastor at First Baptist since September 2011. Dr. Howell has been in the ministry for more than twenty years and has served churches in Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky and Arkansas. Additionally, he served on the faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky as Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministries. He also has served as an Adjunct Professor for Southwestern Baptist Seminary. He has a passion for taking the gospel to the nations and has been privileged to preach the gospel around the world.

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Andrew Shields

commented on Sep 25, 2012

The points are strong, they would be stronger with a little more detail. I would read an individual post on all of these on 10 consecutive days.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Outstanding article! Every point is true and important to remember. But for any young pastors just starting out, pay special attention to no. 10. I had a wise man of God tell me when I started out, "Don't lose your family building a church." I never forgot that. There have been many pastors and preachers who have lost their families because they devoted more time to the ministry than their families. Billy Sunday is one example. He was a great evangelist but lost his boys because he didn't spend time with them. How utterly horrific it would be to watch your own children cast into the lake of fire because you didn't take time to be a father to them, even though many others came to Christ because of your ministry. There is a balance we all need to keep between ministry and family. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?"

John Alan Duncan

commented on Sep 25, 2012

I agree with Andrew. There are some great reminders here, but a daily posting dealing with each of these would be very helpful to me and to many other pastors seeking to strengthen the ministry to which God has called them.

Ephrem Hagos

commented on Sep 25, 2012

There is no way, whatsoever, for the church to lead a God-honoring and Christ-exalting ministry without the know-how for firsthand knowledge of either according to the Scripture to which it is averse by nature!

Jimmy Jackson

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Thank you! Great reminders.

Michael H Constantine

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Well said! Thanks.

Victor Perez

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Gracias~! also that people may get offended when you dont even know it and when you think they may get offended they really are blessed.,

Derrick Tuper

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Great reminders. Some comments: #1-You'll never realize how easy it's not until you get into it. The less you're under the delusion the better off you'll be. #2-So many ministry duties and demands will be upon you. Study prep can take a back-burner-don't let it. Make the time and stick to it. #7-Don't be so busy with ministry work that you neglect the work of your relationship with Jesus. #8-When things go wrong that doesn't mean you've failed. Life, including ministry, doesn't go perfectly.#9-Avoid the, "my life would be wonderful if it weren't for these people" attitude. God placed you as a shepherd over these people. Perhaps some of them are just "dumb" sheep who need more patience. #10-do not neglect your family. Be willing to tell people "no" so you can say "yes" to your wife and kids.

John E Miller

commented on Sep 26, 2012

Very sound thoughts. I was particularly challenged by the third, fifth and sixth points. Thank you.

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