5 Critical Mistakes for Ministers

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1. Doing Everything Yourself

You have to learn to delegate and give up the unrealistic expectation of perfection. You will only burn yourself out and rob others of the opportunity to serve. Research has found that a key to vital ministry is the training and involvement of "ordinary" people—that is, those who don't get paid to be there. Empower these people to serve, and help other staff and key leaders do the same with the areas of ministry they oversee. Give the ministry away and let others use their gifts.

2. Living at Church

If you work all the time you are probably avoiding something in your life that needs your attention now, not later. Don't wear busyness as a badge of honor. Your family may respect your work ethic, but they'd still rather have time with you—days when you don't answer the phone whenever it rings, vacations when you don't head back early so you don't miss a service. Create and protect personal time when you are not "on call."

3. Ignoring Your Health

Related to Number Two, you must not neglect your own health—physical, mental, and spiritual. Your gift to the key people in your life is a healthy you. Find a buddy or accountability partner and begin to do one thing that will help you be a healthier person this time next year. Do you need to exercise more? Start seeing a counselor? Rekindle a hobby you enjoy? Worship in a place where no one calls you "pastor"?

4. Surrounding Yourself with People who Think Just Like You

If you're able to click "like" on everything your Facebook friends say, you may have unintentionally created an echo chamber in which you are so surrounded by like-minded people, you begin to think your way of thinking is the norm or the majority view. Practice listening to people different from you, and you'll have a better appreciation for how other people understand God and the world. You might not change your mind about anything, but your preaching and teaching will be richer from hearing other people's perspectives, struggles, and doubts.

5. Being a Broken Record

Stop rehashing your favorite scripture, topic, or theological view. Look closely at your sermons and the Bible studies you've taught over the past year. Have you gravitated to a particular book of the Bible or does your favorite scripture seem to weave itself into everything you say? Of course you want to emphasize the core values of our faith, and key fundamentals bear repeating, but challenge yourself to tackle a topic you've never explored in depth, or a Scripture that makes you uncomfortable. Take an online class, get a new reference tool, contact a chum from seminary or Bible college and plan a way to study together. Stretch yourself, not just for your own sake, but for the benefit of everyone you lead.

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