- Jim Townsley
- Feb 25, 2014
Paul set the ministry bar high by his tireless labor in the ministry. "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." - 2 Corinthians 12:15 Paul's ministry involved many trials and tears. It is important to recognize that church planting will require dedicated and sacrificial service. Like Paul, we too must warn people night and day. "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God." - I Thessalonians 2:9 Every preacher will face the pressures of the ministry and if he doesn't he probably is not doing his job.
Church planting involves more than a forty hour week; it is all consuming and it never ends. With every day comes the pressure of preparing messages, visiting, soul-winning, administration, caring for family, as well as many additional duties that change from day to day. The only way to avoid the pressures of the ministry is to become lax in carrying out those duties or not be in the ministry at all.
The many pressures of the ministry can cause stress that may lead to serious consequences. Hard labor does not necessarily cause stress. In fact, some men may work harder and longer than their peers while being relatively free from stress. Stress can be measured by the difference between expectations and reality. If a preacher expects every member to be spiritually minded and separated from the world he will experience great stress, because it is unrealistic to think new believers will be totally and spiritually mature. Setting unrealistic goals can be another source of stress. Believing the growth of the church depends entirely upon the preacher is another unrealistic expectation that can result in great stress. Every unrealistic goal and expectation can and will result in stress for the preacher. While preachers are expected to be superhuman and never experience stress or any other pressure, the reality is that we are all human and are subject to fatigue, depression, and discouragement like any other human being. Working seven days a week, sixteen hours a day can be sustained for a period of time, but not forever. Sometimes starting a church requires sustained and sacrificial effort. However this kind of schedule cannot be maintained indefinitely.
Taking a day off is not a sin and it should be viewed as a necessary time to recharge spiritual and physical batteries. Taking a yearly vacation can be a time to recover from the stress of church building. The church can and will survive without the pastor for a brief period of time. In fact, the church will probably come to appreciate the pastor more by his absence.
Developing and following a reasonable schedule may be difficult to do, but it is vital to the preacher and his family to remain strong and at their best. Fellowship meetings, seminars, and conferences should all be a stable part of a preacher's schedule. It will be impossible to attend every meeting, but picking and choosing those that seem most helpful will add to the preacher's personal growth and become an encouragement to him.
Every man of God must periodically sharpen the axe if he desires to accomplish God's plan. A dull axe will require more effort while producing fewer results. Eating balanced meals, periodic exercise, and adequate sleep are God's methods of rejuvenating all men. No man is exempt from the trials and struggles of life and periodically getting apart for awhile can keep us from coming apart. Stress need not become a stumbling block for a preacher or his family. Finding the right balance is not easy, but it is the key to successfully serving in the ministry.