Home > Devotional, Ministry, Uncategorized > Keys to Successful Pastoral Ministry

Keys to Successful Pastoral Ministry

success failure“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, {19} having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck…” (1 Timothy 1:18-19)

In my own ministry as a pastor, I have often turned to this passage to strongly remind myself of the call of God upon my life. I do not think I’m alone in this … we pastors have great need to build upon the foundation that Jesus Christ has laid down for us, and in us.

The passage includes four critical criteria for effective and God-honoring ministry.

1.      We must accept the charge or command of God concerning the focus of our ministry. 

In the context of 1 Timothy, the command of God had to do with the proper interpretation and application of the law of God (“the law is good if one uses it lawfully”), as well as the instructions concerning the nuts and bolts of pastoral ministry found in the letter.

1 Timothy 3:15 …but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

2.      We must conduct our ministries in view of specific prophecies that came to us as part of our calling. 

Every pastor I have ever asked about their call into pastoral ministry has a story to tell. There were Bible verses, there were words of knowledge, there were direct words from God in times of private prayer, there were prophetic words that were often unsolicited.

What Paul is telling Timothy here is that he must call to mind these words from God, and use them for courage, for authority, and for specificity in serving our Chief Shepherd.

3.      We must exercise faith. 

No one can fulfill the ministry of pastor-teacher without faith. Sometimes the faith is the actual gift of faith … the supernatural ability to believe God for supernatural things in a specific situation. Sometimes the faith is visionary faith. The pastor knows the Lord is leading, and trusts God to guide and provide for what He is doing. At all times the pastor is to believe what he believes … about the Bible, about God and about sound doctrine.

4.      We must work hard to maintain a good conscience. 

No doubt this is a difficult task, especially because the enemies of all true believers are also the enemies of the pastor. We deal with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The devil uses these realms—the world and flesh—in his attempts to destroy us. Only through Christ will we emerge victorious.

Thankfully, the pastor has access to all the means of grace … the word of God, the Spirit of God, Christian fellowship, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, confession of sin, sanctifying grace enabling him to repent when necessary. He must be diligent to apply these means of grace in order to live a life pleasing to God and fruitful in His work.

The prize of a good conscience makes the effort worth it. Continued fellowship with and closeness to God are of inestimable value.

The success of our ministries cannot be measured by numbers, budgets, or programs. Success can only be measured by the degree of faithfulness to our calling. God is faithful, who will also bring it to pass if we allow Him.

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  1. May 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Hi Pastor Bill,

    I love what you had to say about falling back on the prophetic words we have heard from the Lord concerning our calling. Looking back on times when I know I was hearing from God has been the only thing that has kept me going during times when my circumstances seemed to contradict what God had spoken to me. I never really understood why the Lord Jesus seemed to be passing by the disciples on the Sea of Galilee until I “experienced” it by thinking perhaps He had not called me to be a pastor, and that He was, in a sense, passing me by. I no longer think He is passing me by.

  2. May 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

    That’s wonderful to hear, Mark. So important to rely upon what God clearly says to us. I love the statement in Psalm 105 about Joseph: “until his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” Joseph had two dreams about ruling over his family … but then he found himself in an Egyptian prison. God’s word was testing him during those years. Would he continue to believe God’s word in spite of his circumstances? Does the promise of God trump the day to day events of our lives?

    God bless you, Mark.

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