Promoting Christ-centred Biblical Ministry

Index of Articles
Godly self-management?

reprinted from the March 1997 edition of Essentials


   Ministers of the Word (pastors of local churches) are one of the few groups who are self employed in our society today. We have no immediate and effective supervisor to direct our activities and to give us feedback. We have the difficult task of creating our own pattern of life and ministry. It is easy to see ministers around us developing the wrong pattern, but it is harder to develop the right pattern for ourselves. Peter Adam offers both biblical and practical advice aimed squarely at ministers of local congregations. But there is also plenty here to help the church member encourage and even challenge their pastors.

Peter Adam is Principal of Ridley Theological College in Melbourne




   Three Dangers
   I think there are three dangers we can fall into:
  1. We become lazy and take advantage of our freedom to suit our own comfort, engaging in activities that fill our time with no good result, such as endless socializing, playing with our computer, reading or buying new books, keeping in touch with the world, or doing the housework.
  2. We may work too hard and become workaholics. It then becomes increasingly difficult to evaluate what we're doing because we don't have the time or energy to do so.
  3. We may work hard and responsibly but put all our efforts into the wrong things. We do the things that are secondary and not the things that are primary, so although we are working well, we're not working to any great effect.
   Vital responsibilities
   In order to develop a healthy pattern of working and living, we need to make sure that we don't work too hard. If we work too hard over a long period, we will not have the energy necessary for the following vital responsibilities:
  • Resist sexual temptation-We are more likely to fall to this temptation when we are over stressed by our busyness, or when we are over tired and therefore lack the ability to receive emotional support from our families and friends.
  • Be creative and proactive - taking responsibility for our lives and being effective in our ministries.
  • Relate as a human being - it is so easy to become work orientated that we can't think or talk or pray other than work and this does not provide a good model of Christian living for those whom we hope to influence.
  • Have a reserve of energy for crises - it is bad for us to work so hard that we have no energy left when a crisis comes, because at the very point when we need all our creative energy to be effective it is lacking.
  • Resist the pressure of the world and influential people - if we are busy we are most likely to be influenced by people who push us around and by the patterns of the world.
  • Have time for fellowship - the easiest thing in ministry is to become doers and be unable to receive encouragement or Christian fellowship. If we don't have time to listen we won't be effective in our speaking.
   A Biblical pattern of ministry   
   It is obvious that there are many pressures on us to do many different things and one of the difficulties of being self employed is that everybody makes demands of us; it becomes especially important that we have a clear view of what we should be doing and also a clear mechanism for achieving what we want to do.   
   We must go to the Bible to find our pattern of ministry. I believe it is helpful to look at Paul's instructions to Timothy to discover our primary responsibilities. We read the following:   
  • If you point these things out to the brothers you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed (1 Tim 4:6).
  • Set an example for others in speech, in life, in faith and purity, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching (1 Tim 4:12,13
  • Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress, watch your life and your doctrine closely, persevere in them because if you do you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim 6:11,12).
  • Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you (2 Tim 2:24).
  • What you have heard entrust to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others (2 Tim 2:2).
  • Think on what is said (in Scripture) for the Lord will give you insight into all this (2 Tim 2:7).
  • Be able to teach and gently instruct (2 Tim 2:24). Speak the message (2 Tim 4:2).
  • Do the work of an evangelist and fulfil your ministry (2 Tim 4:5).
   It is so important that we gain our priorities in ministry from Scripture rather than from the models of ministry we have seen around us or from the expectations of parishioners.   
   A weekly pattern   
   One method is to spend sometime at the beginning of each year working out a weekly pattern for the use of our time which will serve our good purposes.   
   This system is that we work out in advance how much time we will spend doing various activities during a week, that we keep a record each week of   
   the time we spend and if we overspend in one area in one week, than we try to balance up the next week.   
   So for example, if we reckon that a fifty hour week is appropriate here is a break up of the fifty hours: 6 hours-administration (organising for the Ministry of the Word to happen)   
   6 hours - Leadership in meetings (helping lay people grasp the Gospel vision, and encouraging good priorities in our church)   
   6 hours - counselling (using the word of God to encourage people with particular needs)   
   3 hours - personal evangelism   
   3 hours - training and equipping lay people for Christian ministry either in a group or as individuals 6 hours - in church on Sunday. This will of course include preaching and teaching as well as leading services and meeting people.   
   10 hours - preparation and reading for our ministry 2 hours - for the responsibilities we have beyond our local church   
   2 hours - being encouraged by Christian brothers and sisters in our ministry   
   6 hours - prayer   
   The purpose of this structuring is not to create a straight jacket for ourselves, but to try and keep responsible control of how we spend our time and energy, to be proactive and effective in our choices about our ministry.   
   We should use our diary proactively, writing into it weeks ahead the time we want to spend on our primary responsibilities. Our diaries should reflect our victory in doing good and godly ministry, and not our defeat by the pressures of those around us.   
   Go to the Bible for your model of ministry.   
   Plan your life and ministry to achieve your primary responsibilities.   
   Make every part of your ministry achieve good Gospel aims.   

  HOME Index of Articles