Prayer For Faithfulness In Ministry
Top 10 Priorities for a Pastor in Ministry
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them… And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. — 1 Peter 5:2, 1 Peter 5:4
Everyone is busy. This is the reality of our modern culture. There is work that needs to be done, a family to care for, a house and car to maintain, friendships to cultivate, doctors to visit. There are kids’ activities to schedule and guests to host.
For those of us who are Christians, we can add to the normal busyness of life our attendance at church and possibly volunteering in one of its ministries (or for another organization) once a week. Life in the twenty-first century feels an unending rat race.
We only slow down when crisis and sickness force us to take a break.
Those who pastor God’s people experience many of the same pulls, pressures, demands, and responsibilities as other Christians. And because a pastor is called to be involved in the lives of the people in his congregation, he must learn to juggle his own schedule with the hectic schedules of his church members as well.
Their busy lives create additional tension in ministry, setting many pastors up for failure — even before they begin.
Many pastors fall into two traps here. In some cases, a pastor quickly realizes he cannot provide adequate care for his congregation, so he doesn’t.Even with a smaller congregation, it’s not possible to pay a hospital visit after every surgery, attend every ball game, officiate every funeral, sit in on every committee meeting, accept every invitation to come over for dinner, participate in every church workday, and respond to every counseling request.
Discouraged, some stop trying altogether.
A pastor may choose to focus more broadly on administrating large activities, managing busy programs, and overseeing the general functioning of the local church, leaving the “work of ministry” to others — or neglecting it altogether.
On the other hand, some determined pastors recognize they can’t do it all, but they commit to pushing through the pain. They put an ambitious hand to the plow and hope that with enough effort they will at least please some people. This approach has its own dangers, though. The pastor is now enslaved to the demands and needs of his church.
The congregation, whether directly or indirectly, largely determines how his time is spent. His ministry faithfulness and fruitfulness will be how happy his congregation is with his efforts, and while some will be pleased, there will always be people who are never satisfied.
Satisfying people becomes his way of measuring faithfulness, yet it will leave him feeling exhausted and empty.
The Pastor’s True Biblical Calling
A pastor is not called to run programs for the masses, nor is he called to do it all and try to please everyone.
God is the one who calls pastors to ministry, and the specifics of that calling are clearly outlined in God’s word. The only way a pastor can avoid these pitfalls and remain steadfast throughout his life and ministry is to know what God has truly called him to do — and to do it! The apostle Peter exhorts elders/pastors to be shepherds — to care for God’s people:
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. — 1 Peter 5:2-4
Peter’s exhortation to pastors can be summarized in a single sentence:“Be shepherds of God’s flock under your care until the Chief Shepherd appears.”
And in case you missed it, Peter is pretty clear about the who, what, when, and how of a pastor’s biblical calling.
- What: “Be shepherds of God’s flock.”
- Who: The “flock that is under your care.”
- How: “Not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
- When: Until “the Chief Shepherd [Jesus Christ] appears” — returning for his flock placed in your care.
A pastor’s true calling, then, is to shepherd the souls of God’s people humbly, willingly, and eagerly, and to do all of this on behalf of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
This has not changed from the time Peter wrote these words until today. Though our culture has changed and life is radically different today than it was in the first century, the basic responsibilities of pastoral ministry have not changed.
The word of God is sufficient to provide us with an outline of a pastor’s divine calling and to instruct in how he should prioritize his daily schedule. God’s word consistently highlights the priorities of faithful shepherds and affirms that these priorities revolve around the core calling — to “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care.”
God’s word has the power to cut through the demands, pressures, and expectations that crush a pastor’s spirit.
For you pastors, my hope is that by studying and meditating on the calling and priorities of pastoral ministry you will better understand what God is truly asking of you and where he wants your time to be spent. The aim of this book is simple: to reveal the priorities that God sets for every pastor.
God reveals these priorities throughout Scripture. He establishes them in the life of Israel, roots them in his full redemptive plan, and confirms them in the instructions he gives through Jesus and the apostles. This book will focus on ten key priorities that are at the heart of every pastor’s ministry.
1. Guard the truth. A pastor must be committed to the word of God and the apostles’ teachings and be willing to preach, teach, and defend them when they are contrary to the culture.
2. Preach the word. A pastor must faithfully preach the whole counsel of God’s word, carefully explaining the meaning of the text and applying it to the lives of those under his care.
3. Pray for the flock. A pastor should be an intercessor, bringing the needs of his church before God and modeling prayer both publicly and privately.
4. Set an example. A pastor is an example to his flock and should always be aware that others are looking to him as a model. While a pastor should model righteous behavior, he must also model confession and repentance, acknowledging he is also a sinner and teaching his people how to apply the gospel to life.
5. Visit the sick. Pastors should visit those who are sick and in need of care and encouragement, and they must train others in the congregation to help care for those in need.
6. Comfort the grieving. In the face of death, a pastor should grieve with those who grieve and should sensitively remind those who are grieving of the hope and encouragement of the gospel. This involves preaching gospel-focused messages at funerals and graveside services.
7. Care for widows. This much-neglected biblical teaching calls for pastors to be responsible for the widows of the church and to find creative ways to model care for widows by involving their families and other members of the church in caring for these special women.
8. Confront sin. Pastors need to confront sin and lead the church in the exercise of discipline in the hope of repentance and restoration.
9. Encourage the weaker sheep. Though we can be tempted to easily dismiss people who are slow to change, God calls pastors to model patience and persevering hope by working with those who are difficult, despairing, and challenging.
10. Identify and train leaders. It is the primary responsibility of pastors to identify, train, and affirm leaders in the church. Every pastor should have a plan for doing this in his local church and should be actively seeking out the next generation of leaders.
We need to be biblically grounded in these pastoral imperatives before we can develop the practical tools to engage in these tasks.
An Important Caveat
As you see these ten priorities, you may be curious about the absence of other important aspects of a pastor’s ministry, such as evangelism and caring for the poor. Paul exhorts Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5), and he instructs the churches in Galatia to remember the poor (Galatians 2:10).
To be sure, these are important responsibilities that are necessary to the health of any local church. They are also areas in which a pastor should lead, model, and encourage his church. However, in this book I focus on the priorities of a shepherd’s ministry — the things he must do to care for God’s people in particular.
Even though I have not directly addressed these important ministries, expect to find some mention of them woven throughout the ten priorities.Evangelism is necessary as we preach the word and guard the truth. Caring for the poor in the church is inevitable as a pastor visits the sick, cares for widows, and encourages the weak.
Ultimately, I want every pastor who feels the burdens and pressures of ministry and who deals with the impossible expectations of shepherding people to experience freedom from the bondage of meeting every need, giving away time that is not available, trying to be in two places at once, and maintaining countless unappreciated, head-spinning tasks. My hope is that the power of God’s word expounded in these pages will invigorate every pastor to see what God desires for his life and ministry and to better discern what he can do that will please the Chief Shepherd.
Excerpted with permission from The Pastor’s Ministry by Brian Croft, copyright Zondervan.
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What are your thoughts about the priorities listed above? Would you add or change anything? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you!
23 Short Prayers – Hope for Your Soul
Whether you have had a personal relationship with God for years or you are only beginning to discover who Jesus is, we all need guidance sometimes when it comes to prayers. It’s often hard to find the words to pray, that’s why we put together this collection of short prayers.
The following short prayers offer guiding words to use for praying over various topics including worry, anxiety, doubt, forgiveness, fear, and other areas of life where we need to ask for God’s help.
Please use these prayers and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you add some of your own words and personalize your petitions to God.
Prayer for Peace
Father God, my heart is filled with chaos and confusion. I feel as if I am drowning in my circumstances and my heart is filled with fear and confusion. I really need the strength and peace that only You can give. Right now, I choose to rest in You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland.
Prayer for the Broken-Hearted
Lord, my heart is broken but You are near. My spirit is crushed, but You are my rescuer. Your Word is my hope. It revives me and comforts me in especially now. My soul faints, but you are the breath of life within me.
You are my help, the One who sustains me. I am weak but You are strong. You bless those who mourn, and I trust You to bless me and my family with all that we need. You will rescue me from this dark cloud of despair because You delight in me.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Jennifer White
Prayer for Perseverance
Holy Lord, Thank You for grace. Please help me move beyond the hurdles that trip me up and give me the strength and wisdom to look up and see the hope I run toward in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Gwen Smith
Prayer for Self Control
Father, today I ask forgiveness of all the negative and harmful words I have spoken about myself. I do not want to abuse myself in such a way again. Transform my thoughts and let me understand how marvelously you made me. Change my habits so I use my tongue to speak hope and favor upon my life. In Jesus' name, Amen. ~ Sarah Coleman
Prayer for Loving Jesus
Father, I have to thank You for looking beyond my faults and for loving me unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to love others in the same way. Give me eyes to see the needs of the difficult people in my life, and show me how to meet those needs in a way that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland
Prayer for God’s Direction
Lord, help me not to lean on my own understanding but in everything acknowledge You so that You can direct my words, thoughts and actions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Sharon Glasgow
Prayer For Worry
Father, I am tempted to worry about so many things. Our world is a mess! Forgive me for focusing on anything or anyone but You. Thank You for the Bible that equips and empowers me to live each day. Right now, I declare that You are my only Hope. Please help me remember that You really are in control. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland
Prayer for God’s Strength
Lord, thank you for your greatness. Thank you that when I am weak, you are strong. Lord, the Devil is scheming and I know he desires to keep me from spending time with you. Don’t let him win! Give me a measure of your strength so that I might not give into discouragement, deception and doubt! Help me honor you in all my ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Debbie Przybylski
~ Debbie Przybylski
Prayer When Feeling Inadequate
Dear Lord, Thank You for fearfully and wonderfully creating each of us. Thank You for giving us worth in Your eyes. Help us live as the one You uniquely intended us to be. Help us abide instead of strive, living peacefully and joyfully as heirs to Your Kingdom and co-heirs with Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Julie Sunne
Prayer for Being Grateful
Father, I am so sorry for the way I complain about my circumstances. Please forgive me for my bad attitude when things don't go my way.
I want to see Your hand in every part of every day – good or bad.
Help me learn how to face every storm with confidence, knowing that You really are in control even though I cannot hear Your voice or see Your hand at work. In Jesus Name, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland
Prayer of God’s Provision
Dear Father God, Thank You for Your unfailing love for me, Your blessings, and goodness. Thank You for Your faithfulness to guide me and see me through times of uncertainty, for lifting me up, and setting me on high.
Thank You for Scripture that comforts and reminds me of Your promises, plan, and provision. Thank you for taking away my fears and worries, the what-ifs, and reminding me that my help comes from You. Help me be a good steward and to sow wisely.
In Christ’s Name, Amen. ~ Renee Davis
Prayer for Growing Faith
Dear Lord, help me – every single morning – to find faith in the midst of the chaos. Give me the desire and ability to see You, hear You, talk to You, and give thanks to You.
And as I do, I pray that I will draw nearer and nearer to You, and that my faith will multiply exponentially as I understand in new, deeper ways that You are everything I ever hoped You would be. And so much more.
Amen. ~ Kelly O’Dell Stanley
Prayer for Confidence
Lord, help me let go of my fear of failure. I know Satan wants to use my fears to hold me back from living boldly for You.
Forgive me for not living in faith, and help me from this moment on to live with bold confidence in You. Lord, help me not compare myself to others around me.
I pray instead that I can keep my eye on You and live a life that proclaims Your excellence. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen. ~ Rick Warren
Prayer for a Heavy Heart
Lord, I want to lay before you all that weighs heavy on my heart. Reveal even the sin I am not aware of, Lord. I lay these at your feet and pray your forgiveness on me. I believe you when you say that you wash us whiter than snow. Thank you Lord for your unending love for me! Help me start fresh right now to make choices that honor you. In Jesus' Name, Amen. ~ Rick Warren
Father, sometimes it does feel that you have left us in the battle. We know that you are with us, but so are our feelings of aloneness. The Enemy seems to be taking ground. Our crying out to you seems to go unanswered. We know you are at work, but help us trust you in the midst of our questions. In Jesus' Name, Amen. ~ Ron Moore
Short Prayer for Thankfulness
God, sometimes life gets me down and I find it hard to see things to be thankful for. Open my eyes to see the gifts you’ve given me in my life. I’m going to start by thanking you for loving me enough to come to earth and die so we can live together forever. Amen. ~ Wendy van Eyck
Prayer for Restored Relationships
Father God, open my eyes to see the ways I’m Cain.
What conflicts am I allowing to brew in my family? What anger is bubbling into murderous rage in my relationships? Thank You for the clarity to see how hatred kills relationships.
I choose instead the way of love. Love protects. Help me to protect those I love by loving them. Your way is always best, Father. I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ James MacDonald
Which one of these short prayers spoke the most to you and how can we be praying for you? Comment below and let us know!
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for Strength
Prayer for Protection
Good Night Prayers
A Birthday Prayer
Prayer for Forgiveness
Prayer for Guidance
Prayer for Peace
Prayer for Faith
Prayer for Love
Now available is our new Daily Prayer devotional! An easy way to find start your day with prayer, read today’s prayer and sign up to receive by email.
7 Ways God Will Evaluate Your Faithfulness
Pastors and leaders, I’m going to give you a sneak peek at your final exam. You’re going to stand before God one day, and He’s going to evaluate your faithfulness. He’s going to look at eight different aspects of your life to judge your faithfulness, and you should be highly interested in developing these areas of your life and leadership.
1. Do you possess the right values?
A faithful person knows what’s important in life and what isn’t important in life. A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life. A faithful person makes his or her life count. A faithful person knows the significant apart from the trivial.
Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” This verse contrasts faithfulness with a desire to get rich quick. He’s not talking about making money.He’s saying that what we have to realize is there is more to life than just the accumulation of things. The Bible says we’re to live fish swimming upstream in a very materialistic world. Faithfulness is proven by our refusal to buy into the system that says the almighty buck is the number one thing in life.
Faithfulness is often proven by choosing a simplified lifestyle to allow more time for ministry.
2. Do you care for the interests of others?
The second way God is going to judge our faithfulness is our relationship to other people. Did we care about the relationships of others and not just our own relationships?
Faithfulness swims against the stream of contemporary culture, which says, “What’s in it for me? What are my needs, my ambitions, my desires, my goals, my hurts, my values, my profit, my benefit?” But God says faithfulness is proven by our others-directedness and by giving our life away, by looking at others rather than concentrating on ourselves.
3. Do you live with integrity before an unbelieving world?
In other words, a mark of faithfulness is the kind of testimony you have with unbelievers.
The Bible teaches that a pastor is to be above reproach in the community and to have a good reputation – not with believers, but with unbelievers.
When God evaluates your faithfulness, he won’t be looking at your communication skills, but he will be examining the way in which you walked before those who are outside the faith.
4. Do you keep your promises?
When God evaluates your faithfulness, he’s going to look at all the promises you made. Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later consider your vow.” It’s easier to get into debt than to get debt – that’s making a promise to pay.
It’s easier to get into a relationship than a relationship. It’s easier to fill up your schedule than it is to fulfill your schedule. The Bible is saying that faithfulness is a matter of if you say it, you do it. You keep your promises.
The number one cause of resentment is unfulfilled promises.
5. Do you develop your God-given gifts?
There’s a tremendous emphasis in the Bible on using the gifts and the talents God has given you. God has made an investment in your life and he expects a return on it.
First Peter 4:10 says, “Each should use whatever spiritual gift he has received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.
” Notice it says if you don’t use your spiritual gift, people are getting cheated. Faithfulness is what we do with what we have.
6. Do you obey God’s commands?
In 1 Samuel 2:35, God says, “I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do whatever I tell him to do.” God defines faithfulness as obedience to the commands of Christ. We can be skilled leaders and communicators, but disobedience disqualifies us from being seen as faithful as God defines it. This is basic, but it’s essential.
7. Do you pass on what you learn?
The Bible talks a lot about the transferring process of multiplication. You’re to give what you learn to faithful men, and those faithful men are to give it to others, and so on.
None of us would be here today if there hadn’t been faithful men and women in the last 2,000 years of the Church.
We’re leading today because some faithful men and women took the time to write down the Scriptures, and others preserved the Scriptures, and others translated the Scriptures. We’re here because of the testimony of faithful people.
If God teaches you a spiritual truth and you’re learning a spiritual truth, it’s your duty to pass it on to others.
How do I become faithful? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness.” It’s one of the nine fruits. When the Holy Spirit lives in my life, I will demonstrate faithfulness.
How do you know when you’re filled with the Spirit? What is the test? Some kind of emotional experience? Not necessarily. You can have an emotional experience and not be filled with the Spirit. What is the test? The fruit is the test.
How do I demonstrate that I’m filled with the Spirit? I demonstrate it when I’m faithful to the responsibilities that God has given me.
photo credit: stratoz