For a few years now I have had the honor of leading a group of pastors within the JBA called The Pastor’s Advance Group. The purpose of the group is to minister to one another through conversation, prayer, and book study. We have lunch, pray together, and share what God is doing in our ministry areas and personal life.
Over the last seven months we walked through the book, The Resilient Pastor, by Dr. Mark Searby. Resiliency is a vital attribute in staying faithful to our ministry calling. Though there are different definitions of resiliency, I like this one, not original to me, that fits with perseverance: Resiliency is long obedience in the same direction. Every day, seeking to do the right thing, the God led thing, and continuing to do it until God – not man, me, or anyone else – says I am done.
Dr. Searby lays out ten principles that enable resiliency. Of that group, four spoke to me the most. The first principle is to develop intimacy with God. Intimacy, though it seems a natural trait, unfortunately is one many of us in ministry fail to maintain as a priority. Intimacy with God requires commitment, time, and discipline, and without it, resiliency is fleeting. Three daily prayers can help my focus: “Shape my heart”; “Renew my mind”; “Use my hands.” (The Resilient Pastor, p.20). The second principle is to recognize strengths. God made me a certain way, with certain skills, talents, acumen, etc. It is easier to stay focused and effective when I’m ‘staying in the lane’ for which God designed me. The third principle is what I would call a brother to recognize strengths: accept your limitations. We too often think we can and should do everything. Be humble and wise enough to see the limitations, rather than drown in them, and assign them elsewhere if at all possible. A final principle for me is to reject erroneous messages. This one can be tough. Spiritual warfare often makes its greatest strides in this area, as Satan uses many avenues, including our minds and the words of others, to get us off track. To be resilient, we must not allow error to block truth.
From Dr. Searby’s insights, as well as each pastor in our group, I was challenged to practice long obedience in the course on which God has placed me, and to take wise steps in remaining there. If you would like to discuss the topic in more detail, please let me know and I would love to do so.
The group will begin our next book, Future Church, by Will Mancini and Cory Hartman, on Tuesday, September 21st. The book has excellent insight on ministry principles that will help us engage those in our community whom we are called to reach. We meet at the JBA office and you are welcome to you join us. Please contact me (e-mail is below) so I can place you on the invite list or share more about this opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you.