Some time ago, I came across this article about Bob Russell. He was retiring after 40 years in ministry at the eighth largest church in America.
In the article he shared his thoughts about what it takes to go the long haul and truly last in the ministry.
When someone of this caliber and experience shares thoughts like these we’d all be wise to listen.
I culled the following keys to ministerial longevity from the article.
Nine Keys to Lasting in the Ministry
1. Don’t even entertain the idea of leaving.
2. Foster a sense of duty.
3. Surround yourself with supportive leadership.
4. Learn how to cope with criticism and deal with naysayers.
Russell said that he had been collecting all the critical letters he’s received over the years and he was going to use them to write a book on how to handle critics. That would be an awesome thing to read, I’m sure.
“Usually criticism doesn’t knock you down but it does weaken the structure,” he said. “You have to learn to cope with criticism.”
5. Keep your eyes optimistically on the “big picture.”
6. Put your family first.
“When it’s all said and done, the people standing by your side will be your family and the Lord,” he said. “Don’t neglect them for the ministry.”
7. Remember that you are in the ministry because you are called by God.
8. Take rejuvenating breaks.
Still, Russell said a key reason he endured ups and downs was because his church provided him times of rest so he could recharge spiritually and physically.
9. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide, humble, encourage and protect you.
“God protected my family from the evil one,” Russell said. “God has encouraged me when I’ve needed it, and he humbled me when I needed humbling.”
I highly recommend that you read the whole article to get the full impact of these points.