Seven Deadly Behaviors of Ministry (Part Two)

coffeebeans.jpgEarlier this week, I began a brief series that I am calling "Seven Deadly Behaviors of Ministry."  (You can read part one here.)  These are behaviors that will greatly hamper a person’s effectiveness in ministry.  Yet, the issue is greater than something pragmatic.  Rather, some of these behaviors push against the kind of integrity and life that God has called upon us to experience and live.

The next two deadly behaviors:

4.  Pay little attention to your own spiritual life.  I first noticed this many years ago.  It is possible to read books, read journal articles, listen to Christian messages, etc. about matters pertaining to the Christian faith or to the church and yet pay little attention to your own spiritual life.  It is possible to be a student in seminary and read much literature about the Bible and yet rarely read the Bible itself for your own formation.  (This is not a swipe at seminary.  It is simply an acknowledgment of the struggle that many have experienced.)

It is critical that I pay attention to my own formation into the image of Christ.  Do I intentionally practice spiritual disciplines that help cultivate my heart and life for what God wishes to do in me?

One of the dangers of serving as a minister is that it can become a "job."  If I am not careful, I can find myself speaking to the church about spiritual matters that are not part of my own life.  In other words, there is a real disconnect between my life and what I am teaching. 

Very regularly as I prepare Sunday messages or Bible class presentations, I will reflect upon this question: "How am I doing with this truth in my own life?"  Am I seriously attempting to apply this to my life?

5.  Fail to love the congregation.  Does the church, the congregation that I serve, sense that I love them?  Or, am I forever communicating to them that they just don’t measure up?  Do these people sense that I love them or do they sense that the only people I really love are those who agree with me or see things as I do?  Do these people see me as a part of the church family who needs their ministry or do they see me as one who sees himself as above the church’s ministry?  How do I talk about these people when they just don’t seem to "get it"?  Do I speak about them with sarcasm, put-downs, and derogatory remarks, or do I speak of them with endearment, even when they may be causing me frustration or pain? 

Finally, how do I speak of these people when they are not around.  Do I communicate one thing to them on a Sunday morning in the assembly but speak very differently when I am with my close friends? 

What would you add to these? 

More later. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “Seven Deadly Behaviors of Ministry (Part Two)

  1. Jim- Do you suppose some of us minister-types love our people, we just don’t like our people, at least not very much? We may associate our love for the congregation with our calling (we’re supposed to love them), but whether or not we like our people seems to get down to the nitty gritty of our personalities and our own spiritual maturity. Most of us would likely say we love our people, but they sure get on our nerves sometimes and that comes out in all the ways you described. That’s the rub. Thanks for dealing with such timely subjects.  

  2. I was thinking deeply about this very thing this week… that it is hard, once one becomes a spiritual figure, to take care of one’s inner life. The pressure comes early to appear perfect; the challenge is to know which way to turn, to whom one can trust one’s soul struggles. No easy thing.

  3. Jim,
    I am right with you on not treating our souls to the leftovers of our "ministry" study. To guard the heart is crucial for us all. Paul told Timothy to "watch your life and doctrine closely" and in that order: life…doctrine.
    We must tell our congregations that we love them. They are loved so much more by Jesus than by us and our job is to catch up to Jesus’ love for them!

  4. I think this post and series is great.
    I wish I would have had this wisdom when I started ministry.
    You make excellent points brother.
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter weekend!
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  5. Jim, these insights represent some truly great advice as well as stern warnings.  I know you’ve got more.  I would add, "Develop a sense of entitlement."

  6. Hi, Jim. Off topic here. I remember that you liked that little amateur video I did, in which I read an excerpt of Stone Crossings. And that you wanted me to do more.So. I thought of you when I was out in the California redwoods, by a meandering creek, and I made another video! You can access it from (it’s the "hear an excerpt of chapter 3" link.Thanks for your encouragements. 

  7. Hi Drew–I appreciate your thoughts.  Your observation about how we function when people get on our nerves is very good.  Perhaps you have expressed what is a big challenge for many of us.  What do we do and how do we behave when people get on our nerves?

  8. L.L.,This is a very thoughtful observation:…that it is hard, once one becomes a spiritual figure, to take care of one’s inner life. I do think it is very true.  I also think it is unfortunate.  I would enjoy hearing you reflect on why you think this is a reality.Thanks for your comment.

  9. John,I really like what you said about the importance of loving the congregation and telling them.  Your line below is one I read several times.We must tell our congregations that we love them. They are loved so
    much more by Jesus than by us and our job is to catch up to Jesus’ love
    for them!
    Thanks John– 

  10. Frank,Thanks so much for your words.  You are so right about some of us who have this sense of entitlement.  In fact, it is one of the remaining two.Thanks Frank! 

  11. L.L.Glad you did another book reading.  The first video was very good.  I look forward to seeing this one.