Last week I attended the Basics Conference at Parkside Church. I do so every year and every year I come away convicted and encouraged. Alistair Begg’s steady example is the center point as he gathers around himself guest speakers to teach on the basics of pastoral ministry. Every year it’s good to get this refocus, and I’ve never went away thinking the conference wasn’t worth my time. Here is the fruit of one of the breakout sessions, “On Being a Pastor.”
Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Ministry
1. Prayerlessness. Almost every pastor is prone to forget, not just the calling on their lives to a ministry of prayer (Acts 6:4), but their need to depend upon God which comes through prayer.
2. The Gap Between Life and Doctrine. We have to be sure that our lives match up to what we teach and say we believe (1 Tim 4:16). We have to be careful that we do not tolerate this gap even though we might have apparent success. Be holy as God is holy.
3. Inflated Ego. Don’t believe everything you hear that is good about you or what you’re doing in ministry. Keep people around you who will honestly evaluate you. Remember that everything you have has come from God’s hand.
4. Despondency. The opposite of the previous pitfall, here we are down with no hope of change for people or growth for the church. Eventually, ministry will become drudgery rather than joy.
5. Jealousy. Be careful about being envious of the other man’s ministry. Shepherd the flock God has given you.
6. Laziness. People talk about being on guard against burn out but most of us need to be on guard against “rust out.” Work hard in your ministry and never take for granted the privilege that is to be supported by others for the work you do.
7. Misplaced Affections. Do not let love for the work of ministry overtake your love for the One who called you to ministry. Be aware of the idols of you heart.
8. Aimlessness. Do not drift in ministry. Make plans to keep you from being aimless and haphazard in what you do. Plan to preach, plan to pray, discuss bigger plans with your leadership.
9. Fads. Every few months there is a new ministry craze and emphasis. Most of these come and go and leave little real mark on the church. Most church growth books have little staying power and are outdated by the next publication. Stay steady in the essentials of ministry: teaching the Word, praying for your people, training leaders, loving the church, and lifting up Christ.