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Plain Talk for Starting Right in 2015

 

It may be time to evaluate what you plan to do in ministry in 2015. At the beginning of each New Year, this is what I do: I sit down and reflect on my successes and defeats during the former year and then make a plan.

Consider the Following Ten Points:

  1. Spiritual Warfare: Engaging in spiritual warfare without a plan is outright dangerous. Sometimes my new plan may only be a revision of my former plan. At other times, it’s a new plan altogether. I do this because I’ve learned if I fail to plan; I plan to fail.
  2. Defeat Is Not The End: The most difficult task I face is the same as what you face daily. I must follow through on my plan and refuse to permit myself to view setbacks as defeat. Defeat is only a “bump in the road” or a “detour.” Defeat should never be viewed as the “end of the road.”  When I face defeat, I keep telling myself to “keep on racing for the goal line” that is before me (Phil. 3:13), knowing that it’s never easy to complete what God has called me to do.
  3. Listen to God: Many of the prophets and saints in ancient times were often surrounded by doubters. Nehemiah had to listen every day to many doubters when God told him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 5:16). He continued to listen to God though his critics opposed him. The walls were finally built and Nehemiah was appointed governor over Judah by King Artaxerxes of Persia (5:14).
  4. Facing Fear: All of us will encounter fear at some point in time, though a “super-spiritual” person may refuse to admit this. There is nothing wrong with being human; God never expects us to be super-human. Try calming your mind when you encounter fear; remember the God whom you serve is all powerful. Everything is possible for him/her who believes (or trusts) in God (Mark 9:23). Begin praising Him for all the wonderful things he did for you in the past. Ask the Father, in Jesus’ Name, to help you with your unbelief (or doubt- Mark 9:24), like the father who came to Jesus, asking that He deliver his son from a demonic spirit.
  5. Self-talk Is Real: This is not a New Age concept. More thoughts run through someone’s mind than words that come out of his/her mouth. Therefore, we are talking to ourselves all the time [in our minds]. When you have negative (defeating) thoughts, just replace these with what the Scripture says you should do. This is not easy when your mind is uneasy or filled with anxiety. But with enough practice you’ll eventually get the hang-of-it.
  6. Dealing With Failure: When you fail, examine where you went wrong. Ask the Lord to renew your strength and try…try…try again. Evaluate any equivalent benefits you gained and lessons learned from your failure. Don’t be stupid! If your plan is not working after you’ve tested it for a long period of time, develop a plan that does work. Then go in a different direction.
  7. Don’t Keep Focusing on your Failures: Focus on your best abilities and gifts and continue to develop them and use them to honor God.
  8. Stop Complaining: Try to identify the most difficult problems your ministry faces. Don’t do this by yourself. Have a meeting with your inner-circle of confidants who have your best interests at heart. Don’t try to dominate the meeting or preach to them. Instead, ask them for suggestions and insights. Such a meeting with your trusted friends will greatly help you to evaluate your plans. Remember to pray after the meeting concerning the revised plans.
  9. Control Stress: This is easier said than done. Stress (“burn-out”) often destroys a minister’s health, ministry, plan, and family life. There are many things that can be done to relieve stress. You may try using the Internet to find articles that give pointers on how to relieve stress. Be sure that you don’t follow the advice of some weirdo, who has bogus credentials and no experience with stress. There’s been a lot of talk today in the media about stress, but little is said about how to relieve it. Some ideas are: exercise, good nutrition, rest, and time alone with God. Don’t get so stressed-out that you get addicted to prescription drugs. Do something now. Stress is a killer!
  10. Decisions: Don’t ever make a major decision when you’re under tremendous pressure or stress. Take your time, though there may be deadlines facing you. Ask the Lord to give you peace of mind concerning your trials, and to help you make the right decision, at the right time.

 

Originally appearing in The Grapevine 28:1 (January 2015).

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Category: Ministry, Winter 2015

About the Author: Henry A. Harbuck, Ph.D., Th.D., is General Overseer and President of AEGA Ministries International. He is an author, pastor, conference speaker, educator, and certified naturopathic physician. Seeing the need for truth and accountability in Christian leadership, he co-founded the Association of Evangelical Gospel Assemblies in 1988 as a fellowship that would provide spiritual and legal covering for independent ministers, ministries and churches. The AEGA now has members in 50 countries and networks in over 65 nations around the world. Dr. Harbuck is currently completing a study aide entitled The New Millennia In-Depth Bible. aega.org

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