Want to stay the course in ministry? Want to do more than survive? There are a few non-negotiable, irreplaceable practices.
- A daily time with God. There are a number of ways this can happen and every small group pastor will have their own favorite, most satisfying path. But whether it is reading and meditating on a passage of scripture, listening to a worship playlist, journaling, or reading from a devotional book (or some other method), a daily time with God is an essential practice.
- A small group of true friends. Not acquaintances and not just a small group that meets from 7 to 9 every other Thursday. It goes without saying that you need a small group. What you need though are friends. The kind with whom you can truly share life. The kind with whom you can laugh long and hard. The kind with whom you can cry.
- A small group of “fellow soldiers” on mission. Building a thriving small group ministry is never a single campaign effort. It happens over years. If you want to endure, you must have a small group of fellow soldiers who share your passion for community and the mission of making Christ followers. Paul called Epaphroditus his fellow soldier in Philippians 2:25.
- A steady intake of new ideas. If you want to endure, you must be a learner. Read widely across multiple fields (Patrick Lencioni, Jim Collins, Steven Johnson, Malcolm Gladwell, etc.). Listen to a variety of podcasts (Catalyst, TED Radio Hour, Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Freakonomics Radio, etc.). Attend conferences (Leadership Summit, Catalyst, etc.). Watch Leadership Network’s online conferences (The Nines, etc.).
- A balanced life. Work-life balance can be difficult to cultivate but it is an essential ingredient for an enduring small group pastor. It doesn’t really matter what other activities and interests you cultivate as long as you have a life outside of work. Gardening, cooking, blogging, hunting, traveling, etc.
- A healthy diet. This may go against every taste bud, but if you want to endure and participate for the long run you will need to develop a healthy diet. That doesn’t mean you never have pizza or a hamburger. It means you are eating the foods that contribute to a healthy body.
- An exercise routine. This can be as simple as a 30 minute daily walk or as strenuous as a crossfit session (or anything in between). It really doesn’t matter. The key is that your body needs regular activity and without it you can’t expect to endure for long.
When I’m struggling to stay the course, I almost always discover that one or more of these 7 practices are weak or missing in action.
What do you think? Have one to add? You can click here to jump into the conversation.