10 Commandments for Ministry Survival

The other day I found some old files of some of my old writings on an old computer. I wrote “The 10 Commandments for Ministry Survival” at least 10 years ago. I don’t think I have ever posted it on my blog site. As you read them, which one(s) do you struggle with the most? What would you add to the list?

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10 Commandments1. You shall not let other people steal your joy.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and is determined by my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Allowing others to steal my joy amounts to saying joy comes from people instead of God.

2. You shall not gripe and complain when people act like people.

Jesus saw people as sheep scattered without a shepherd.  What shepherd would scorn his sheep for acting like sheep?  When people whine and grumble they are acting like people—doing what comes naturally.  The purpose of ministry is to enable people to do what comes supernaturally.  If people acted like Jesus wanted them to act I would be out of a job.  (NOTE: I am a “people” and I hope others will forgive me when I act like one.)

3. You shall keep a positive attitude in all things.

My attitude determines my altitude.  I cannot control what happens to me, but I can control how I respond.  Remaining positive does not mean I ignore reality.  It does mean I know God is in control, the church is His church, and He will make sure everything works to the good of those who love Him.

4. You shall work with the willing while praying for the obstinate.        

Most people follow without complaining.  Obstinate people are in the minority but if permitted can take the majority of my time.  If a captain waits for everyone to get on board the ship, the ship will never leave dock.

5. You shall not take personal criticisms personally.

Honest criticism is not personal and is extremely helpful.  Destructive criticism has a personal tone.  Taking personal criticisms personally does nothing to help me, nor the person giving the criticism.  By not taking it personal I will be able to see more objectively and not allow the seeds of bitterness to grow in my life.

6. You shall place personal integrity above professional success.

My integrity is all I have and if I lose it I have lost everything.  At times it is tempting to do things, or not do things, based on how I think it looks to others.  It is tempting to compare my ministry with others’ ministries, feeling jealousy or pride based on perceived “success.”

7. You shall stay focused on Christ.

This one thing will keep me from violated #6.  It is Christ I am serving and it is to Him I will give an account.  Nothing else matters but His opinion of me.

8. You shall not allow discouragement to distract you from duty.

Discouragement is the job-hazard of ministry.  There will be days when I do not feel like getting out of bed.  There will be times when I do not feel like continuing.  It is important that during those times I work even harder, not allowing my momentary weakness to dictate my pastoral duties.

9. You shall not bring ministry problems home.

My wife and family are my most important ministry.  The home is to be a safe-place, a place to relax, and a place to rejuvenate for the next day.  Home is not the place to discuss the difficulties and struggles of ministry.  God called me into ministry, not my wife and kids.

10. You shall remember your self-worth is in your walk with Christ not in your work for Christ.

Jesus cared for me as a person before He cared for me as a pastor.  I am a success, not because of my achievements but because of His accomplishment.  If my walk with Him is what it should be, I am a success even when I feel like a failure; and if I stopped being a pastor tomorrow, Jesus would still love me.

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6 thoughts on “10 Commandments for Ministry Survival

      • True. 4 and 10 can be difficult at times as well. I guess they can all be difficult at times. Last week I listened to a guy talk about dealing with ministry stress and he said, “Ministry on its best day is stressful.” That simple statement brought me all kinds of relief.

  1. I take criticism personally even though I know factually that every harsh criticism I have been leveled with as a leader of a church was brought with a person’s tremendous baggage. Illogical, but emotions rarely aren’t.

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