What Does Longevity in Ministry Look Like?
The other day one of my coworkers posed the question: “Where do we want to be in the next 10 years?”
Many people replied with attributes like wanting to have humility, a good work ethic, or be filled with integrity.
After speaking to one of my other co-workers, her first thought was, “I want to still be here.”
Her response made me think of what longevity in ministry looks like.
Side note, I believe that what we all do, whether in the church or outside of the church, is ministry. In this context, I’m talking about working for the church.
After spending a little over a year in ministry, I’ve already seen so many people leave. Many times these people are burnt out, overworked, and tired. This isn’t always a result of the work culture. Because while I’ve seen so many people leave the ministry, I’ve also seen many people stay.
What causes people to stay in ministry? Here are some things that I’ve heard from people who have been in ministry for a long time and things that are helpful to me when you are in ministry.
Don’t forget why you started.
Do you remember when God made it clear to you that you were called to ministry? Maybe he revealed gifts that you didn’t know you had or you discovered something that you are deeply passionate about.
Whatever it is, remember that moment. When (not if) things become difficult, think back to that moment in time. Remember why God called you.
The moment you forget the why, most importantly the who, behind what you do, you’ve lost sight of your mission and calling. If God is not at the center of what you’re doing, then you should take some time to pause and reflect.
Pray for perseverance.
In Romans 8:22-25, Paul writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time… we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Work was a part of the Garden before the Fall, and it was cursed because of sin. There will always be struggles because we live in a broken world. But in that struggle, we can’t forget who our hope comes from.
In John Piper’s article, The Key to Ministry Longevity, he looks at the life of John Newton, the author of the famous hymn Amazing Grace.
In it, the key takeaway is this: “Realism keeps you going. Perfectionism wipes you out.”
You just have to keep going. That doesn’t mean some days won’t be hard, or you won’t want to quit. The good news is you cannot rely on your own strength to get through the day. Only with God can you find perseverance and endurance. .
Paul continues with this encouragement: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
Ask God for perseverance. Ask him to help you in your weakness.
Practice the Sabbath.
Biblical rest, or Sabbath, isn’t just not working; it’s actively resting in God’s presence.
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus take time to be alone with God in prayer. It wasn’t because his ministry was unimportant. It was because his ministry was too important not to rest and be in tune with God and his Word.
And if Jesus modeled this in his ministry, we should follow it.
In our article, “How to Rest in God’s Presence,” it says, “The type of rest that Jesus models is a lifestyle of abiding in God and his creation.”
Are you abiding in God? Are you resting well or does your rest just look like not being at work?
Spend time with biblical community.
God didn’t create you to walk through life alone. You have to surround yourself with people who fill your cup, sharpen and challenge you, and encourage you in your faith.
When Jesus first started his ministry, one of the first things he did was invite his 12 disciples to do life with him (Matthew 10:1).
If Jesus didn’t do life alone and neither should we.
Take a look at your community. While we should all have people we are ministering to, we also need to make sure we have people we can do ministry with and who can minister to us.
Whether you’re in ministry or not, I’ve found these things help me in my ministry and life. Remember to keep God at the center of everything you’re doing and remain sensitive to the work of his Holy Spirit in your life.
“...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Kali Gibson is the editor-in-chief for So We Speak and is a copywriter for the YouVersion Bible App.