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Seven Things I Learned as a Minister

By Jerry Chiles

1. It is not about me. My calling and its nurture give me the power to be sustainable.
It is so easy to get caught in a downward spiral and believe I have let my ministry fall apart. There were times I wanted to quit and walk away. There were times I thought, if I go to another church everything would be better. However, it is not about me. It is about my calling. God is the one who has called me to the task. God is the one who can and will sustain me. At no time did he promise me I would be recognized with honors and accolades. At no time did he promise me that the journey would be a piece of cake. He did promise he would be with me and sustain me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. He promised me that if I was faithful, love people, and encourage them to walk with God, I would feel validation in my calling.
 
2. Whatever your style of ministry, discover a balance between spontaneity and planning.
All of us have a basic ministry style. For some of us our first response is to be spontaneous and shoot from the hip. We enjoy the exhilaration of making the immediate decision. We tend not to think through the decision or its consequences. As a result, we sometimes have to clean up messes and irritate those around us.
On the other hand, there are those of us who plan every detail and anticipate every possible outcome. The time invested is extensive and exhausting. Even with meticulous planning sometimes things go awry. Regardless, of our primary default. Ministry will go smoother if we practice a balance between spontaneity and planning.
 
3. People are more important than organization.
There was a time when I would focus so much on the project or ministry that I neglected the people around me. No matter how important the project, people are more important. Jesus demonstrated this when he said in Mark 2:27(NIV) "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. “ Never forget that we are in the relationship business. It is rather hard to have a relationship with an activity. Spend more time developing Emotional Intelligence than becoming skilled.
 
4. Do your best. Sloppy work is unacceptable.
We are called by God to be the best that we can be. There are times we do not know what we are doing. At this point, we need to ask for help rather than doing a messy job. Sometimes we multitask. Doing a little with each task is not enough. We must learn to empower laypeople who will not only do an adequate job but possibility an even better job than us.
 
5. When we think we are the best, remember that there is always someone who can do it better.
When things are going well, it is easy to think and or feel we are pretty good at what we do. In all probability that is true. After all, we have been called and gifted by God to carry out his work. God has indeed blessed us. In the event we feel too good Proverbs 16:18 (KJV) says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” When we connect with other ministers, we soon recognize how God has gifted them as well. As we interact, we hear solutions we have not even thought about. Remember there is always someone who can do it better.

6. When a church member gets in your face, remember it is probably not about you.
We are not in ministry very long before an angry church member gets in our face. At this point we have choices. One, we can blast them right back telling them they are wrong. Two, we can cower and play the victim. Three, we can listen intently and gently say, “I hear what you are saying, however, we must agree to disagree and I will still love you.” Whichever approach we choose, in all probability it is not about us at all. The trigger point, the last drop in the bucket causing it to overflow, may not be about us, but we are present. If we keep this perspective, it will save us a lot of grief.
 
7. I must consistently retool to stay relevant.
When I left seminary, I was ready to change the world. I knew all I needed to know.Wow! Was I in for a rude awaking! After a while, I realized I needed to be much more flexible and that I did not always have the answers. I realized God uses people to provide answers and it was my responsibility to provide the opportunity for people to explore answers. People are not afraid of change, if you walk with them. However, they are afraid of the transition. The same is true of me. God is constantly encouraging me to grow and change. If I am going to lead, I must be open and willing to work to seek how God is leading me.
 
These thoughts above are from Rev. Jerry Chiles, one of our partners in ministry for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Metroplex. He has served in various churches across the Southeast as an associate minister. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 919.606.2751 or jerrychiles1@gmail.com.
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