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Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I sat down to write out 35 lessons I’ve learned about ministry. These are not in order of priority, but are simply what came to mind at 2:00 in the morning.


1.   Ministry is a mercy – I don’t deserve to minister, and that fact that I do so is sheer mercy.


2.   Ministry is a privilege. Could there be a greater privilege than being invited into the lives of people to talk about Jesus? To be able to teach God’s Word – the only thing that will last forever? Heaven and earth will pass away.


3.   Ministry is costly – Satan hates it, the flesh distorts it, and the world downplays it. Suffering is both the cost and the means of ministry!


4.   Family is the primary ministry. I forgot this too often. Thank God for patient and forgiving childen and wife.


5.   Ministry is worth it. 1 Cor 15:56 assures us that we do not serve Christ in vain. Nothing compares to helping someone find Christ.


6.   So much of ministry is about perspective – keeping it, sharing it. How you look at things makes all the difference. 


7.   Purity is the key to power Isaiah 59:1-2. Kierkegaard defined purity of heart as willing one thing.


8.   The best and worst people in the world are found in churches. No surprise – the religious people crucified Jesus.


9.   The church will hurt you and the church will heal you


10.                 It is not worth serving the church 80 hours a week, and losing your children.



11.                 My children did not ask to be a pastor’s children. They are not impressed by Dr. Shaw. They do not have to behave a certain way because they are the pastor’s children.


12.                 Joy comes in the morning. There are lots of sleepless nights, and things look black. Things look better in the morning.


13.                 Ministry is about growth – personal, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and relational maturity. Stop growing – stop reading – and you stop being a useful instrument in the Master’s hands.


14.                 Character is more important than gifting. Stephen Covey is right – character lasts, and charisma does not.


15.                 Friends are one of greatest joys – I understand why Paul could not stay in Troas, even though he had an open door. His buddy Titus was not there!


16.                 Credibility must be earned – yet, it is given freely by most people. The careless, thoughtless thrill of a moment can erase years of faithful ministry.


17.                 Faithfulness is effectiveness. To be faithful means to find a way to reach people more effectively.


18.                 Much of ministry is fighting distractions. The key to ministry effectiveness is focus. Sunlight focused can burn through just about anything. 


19.                 The second law of thermodynamics affects ministry – left to themselves, things tend to disorder and disarray. Ministry means fighting entropy.


20.                 Every hill is not worth dying on


21.                 Some hills are worth dying on


22.                 Trust God and tell the people. I heard Claude Cone say it dozens of times.


23.                 The call keeps you going. I go back to it over and over.


24.                 The Bible is a living book – I read it through each year and it is still fresh. I wonder if God gives fresh experiences and ever-more-painful challenges in order that we might better understand his Word.


25.                 Ministry is people work – that is the challenge and joy. My friend Ken Warren says, “ministry would be wonderful  if not for the people.” Sometimes, it feels that way!


26.                 Risk is at the heart of ministry. Behold the turtle – he never makes progress unless he sticks out his neck. Another word for faith is risk-taking.


27.                 Sabbaths are the key to sanity and perspective.


28.                 Adrenaline is addictive. 


29.                 Email is a curse and blessing.


30.                 Being holy does not make you less human. I learned this during evangelism training – be ready to share the gospel, and keep some breathmints in your pocket.  


31.                 Endurance is of great value to God (James 1:2-3). Don’t quit.


32.                 The toughest battles come at the end of life. I’ve seen it over and over. God is preparing me for that.


33.                 At the end of the day, only one thing matters: “Well done….”


34.                 A ministry partner is great joy. Mine is worth her weight in riches. She has had lots of opportunity to be faithful to her vows of “through thick and thin, sickness and health, poverty and wealth.” She is  my hero.


35.                  “Praise is like perfume,” said Corrie Ten Boom. “A brief smell is refreshing. Drink it and you’ll become very sick.”


One Comment

  1. Dear Pastor Sam, Thank you for 35 Pearls of Wisdom on your 56th Birthday. A Very Happy Birthday to you! I am convinced that when we can’t sleep God wants us to think about His Awesome Gift, His Goodness, His Glory! Family, Friends and Faith. YOU ARE LOVED! Dave Cardot

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