I’ve been enjoying getting into C.H. Spurgeon’s book, Lectures to My Students. I highly recommend it to any and all pastors. In the beginning of the book, he focuses on an aspect of ministry that doesn’t always get a lot of attention in terms of training today. But as I’m sure you’ll agree, it is vital for longevity in ministry.
I believe that if more church leaders take to heart the call Spurgeon has to us, we’ll make it for the long haul. We won’t become burned out, rather, we’ll experience the joy of, as Eugene Peterson calls it, “long obedience in the same direction.” If you want to remain in ministry for the long haul, begin practicing these 5 daily virtues.
C.H. Spurgeon: 5 Daily Virtues Church Leaders Must Practice
As is the workman, such will the work be. – C.H. Spurgeon
We are servants of God who are called to care for and equip His people. Self-denial is vital to the work of ministry.
If we are not practicing self-denial on a daily basis, our sermons, our teachings, our trainings, will be undermined. Self-denial is the foundation of any work for God.
After all, we follow the Christ who denied Himself and went to the cross for us. The way after Him involves that same practice: self-denial.
Did you know that our brains can only focus on one thing at a time? Multi-tasking is a myth. All we’re really doing is quickly switching focus back and forth between things.
I believe the same is true for who we focus on. We either focus on ourselves or we focus on others.
But Spurgeon used a stronger term: self-forgetfulness. If we’re not told to completely forget about ourselves, we’ll always drift back to focusing on ourselves throughout the day.
It is the moment when we forget ourselves that we are freed to truly serve others.
Did you know? Spurgeon spent 20 years studying the Book of Psalms and writing his commentary on them, The Treasury of David. [source]
For those of us who are hard chargers, make it happen-ers, patience is difficult. But it’s a necessity in ministry.
We know that spiritual growth takes time in the lives of many. Sure, there will be the exceptions. But we must practice daily the virtue of patience, otherwise, we’ll grow frustrated and weary.
Progress isn’t always going to model the speed of the next big church down the road. God wants us to be faithful to Him. The results are in His hands. Lead well. But be patient.
According to Thom Rainer, “over one-half of pastors leave a church before their fourth anniversary.” [source]
We all have grand plans on how we can steer the church toward growth, vibrancy, and health. But how long are we really willing to stick with it? How much time are we going to commit to seeing the vision through?
Think about this: how much of an impact can be made in only four years?
But think about this, too: how much of an impact can be made in ten or twenty years?
People, groups, organizations, and churches don’t change overnight. We should stop expecting them to.
The more we persevere and remain healthy, the healthier our churches will become. Keep going. Keep going.
We all know this, but we probably also need to be reminded of it: ministry is hard.
As church leaders, we’ll get criticized, hurt, and sometimes even attacked. Does that mean that it’s time for us to move on to the next church? Maybe. But probably not.
Our willingness to stick in it through longsuffering will build trust and credibility within the churches we lead. When you’ve been in a battle with someone, you can come out stronger on the other side.
So, when the dust settles, will you remain or will you run?
When you step back and look at these 5 daily virtues church leaders must practice, you see a picture, a reflection, of Jesus. We can practice these 5 things on a daily basis because Christ dwells inside us. He desires to bring these to the forefront of our lives.
The more we let Him do it, the more joy we’ll lead with.
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