When I was first called into the Gospel Ministry I didn’t really have anyone to help me along, and honestly, if anyone tried to give me advice I thought I was smarter than they were and I didn’t need or heed their advice. As my dad always used to say “I had to learn everything the hard way.” Well, learning things the hard way isn’t always the best way. Now that I’ve been in the ministry for many years I have gained a lot of knowledge that I wish I had known 25-years ago. You can choose to take my advice or you can go right ahead and learn it for yourself. Either way, below are ten things that I believe would help anyone just starting out in the ministry.
1. Make certain that your desire to preach is to share the Gospel message and not to get the praise of men. There are many fine orators out there that can preach a pretty message but they are in it for their own glory and not God's. God doesn't need glory seekers, he needs obedient preachers. If in doubt, simply model yourself after the Apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
2. Make certain that you are prepared to be attacked by the devil like you have never been attacked before. You will think you can handle anything and that you have a good head on your shoulders but trust me, you are no match for the devil. He has brought many a good man down and ruined many a preacher. The Apostle Peter walked side-by-side with Jesus but was still subject to be attacked by Satan:
Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
3. Make certain you are prepared to preach the REAL Gospel and not some watered-down version or some version that people want to hear to make themselves feel good. God’s Word alone is powerful enough to draw people to Him, He doesn’t need your help or embellishments, just preach His Word.
2 Timothy 4:2-5 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
4. Be prepared to be judged by everyone that hears you. Even friends and family members will pick you apart. You will make many friends, but you will also make many enemies. You cannot let that distract you from the truth. Even the Prophet Jeremiah had to deal with it:
Jeremiah 12:6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.
5. Make certain you are prepared to sacrifice your own desires and wishes. You may want a certain thing in your ministry but God may not. You have to be Spirit led. Sometimes it is a hard thing to determine the difference in what is your will and God's will. God will show you and he will do it in his own time. Remember, his thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not his ways.
Isaiah 55:8-11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
6. Be prepared to study like never before. You cannot stand behind a pulpit and preach the Word if you do not know the Word. People are listening and hanging on your every word and they are waiting for you to say something wrong. Study the Bible, study commentaries, listen to other preachers. Remember, God inspires the message in the study as well as in the pulpit.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
7. Pray, pray, pray, like you have never prayed before. You are going to need it.
Colossians 4:2-4 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
8. Get rid of anything in your life that would not be pleasing to God and anything that other people may hold against you. Watch your conversation, your written words, the type of music you listen to, the type of movies you watch, the kind of people you hang out with, and the way you behave in church. What may seem innocent to you can be viewed badly upon by other people. I have had to get rid of many things in my life that I didn't necessarily feel were bad but were a stumbling block to other people.
1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
9. Live as clean of a life as you can. If you accept the call to preach and you announce that calling, it is a forever thing. You can spend you whole life living right but all it takes is one misstep and in a fleeting moment you can undo every good thing you’ve ever done.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
10. Finally, perhaps one of the most important things that I have learned over my years in the ministry is you cannot base your success the same way the world does and you cannot compare your ministry to another man’s ministry. The world thinks bigger is better. If you are running large numbers or having to put out chairs, or adding on to your building, most believe that to be successful, and sadly, many pastors have fallen for the world’s view of success. But the world’s view of success is not God’s view of success. We need to look no further than God’s Word for how he measures us:
Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
1 Corinthians 1:23-29 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.