Rev’d. Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John.

I love pastors. Through my personal ministry and various platforms, God has allowed me to partner with many, helping them address issues that are pertinent to church and ministry of today. I’ve learned that many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.
Recently I had a pastor ask me for my “best advice” for other pastors. Wow! That’s hard to say. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by personal ministry experiences. It’s hard to summarize all that I’ve learned. It could probably fill dozen of books, but at least I can offer some here;
Some few years back, I wrote a book, ‘101 Ministry Lessons’ about practical lessons I have learnt in decades of ministry. That book was a mighty blessings to thousands that got a copy to buy or read, judging from the testimonies received in my office. Currently, am updating the book, but decided to give some twenty one of those lessons as encouragement to pastors and gospel ministers that will have access to this.

Here are 21 words of encouragement for pastors:

1. Run from sins that sink pastors.

Yes, there are sins that are peculiar to pastoral ministry. You can abuse your high and elevated position for sex, money, fame and power. Those sins, even though done in secret will eventually sink you. People may rumor about you, but the rumor will die down naturally if you are not found culpable. But if you are secretly guilty of what you are being accused of, it will turn to scandals of great proportion that will sink your work.

2. Don’t grieve but obey the Holy Spirit of God.

Learn to walk and work in obedience to God’s Spirit. Don’t grieve the Spirit of our Father through flagrant disobedience. Seek His leading and let Him be the president of your life and ministry.

3. Choose your friends wisely… but choose friends.
Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it.

4. The church can never love your family as much as you do.
Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no,” learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church…. Don’t let your ministry destroy your family and equally don’t allow your family to destroy your ministry.
5. If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you.
You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else… for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing… but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.
6. You have influence… use it well.
The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take things for granted. Don’t. Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry. Use your pastoral influence for God, not for personal enrichment or aggrandizement.
7. No amount of accountability or structure will keep you from temptation if your heart is impure.
Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Don’t let your heart go astray, because the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.
8. Let God lead.
You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours. See His leading. Walk and work under His divine camera.
9. Don’t ever handle the Word of God deceitfully.
Though we live in a fast changing world, yet the Word of God remains sacrosanct all the time. Believe that word and preach, teach it faithfully. Don’t try to change, innovate or twist the word to cover peoples sins or to please them. Be faithful, live the Word and teach it accordingly.
10. If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger.
Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time.
11. Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church.
You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus. Preach and show Jesus to each of the people God allowed to come under your shepherdship. When Jesus is lifted up, He will surely draw men and women unto Himself
12. Your personal health affects the health of the church.
Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance, and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.
13. The people in your church deserve authenticity.
Not only should you be honest about who you, it helps to keep you from trying to meet unreal expectations. Also, it will help the people in your church to be transparent with you and others. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it… not just teaching it.
14. You’ll never make everyone happy.
If you try, you’ll be very unhappy… and very unproductive. Make sure your motive is pure in all you do. Do everything from the heart of love, that will compensate for not pleasing everybody.
15. Your calling is to a person… Jesus.
That means you are working for Jesus. You ultimately report to Jesus. It is the pleasure of Jesus you are seeking. There will be days your calling is challenged by others. You’ll be tempted to cave in to the pressure of those with the loudest voices. Don’t forget who holds the title to your life. It is His church, not yours. So be true to Him.
16. Use you pulpit to bless and build people for God.
Many pulpits have lost power to transform people for God because it has been polluted by immoral, unsanctified liars jesters, corrupt politicians and idolatrous traditional kings. Preach from a holy, sacred and sanctified pulpit. Preach the truth of Christ uncensored. Exhort, challenge, rebuke and inspire from your pulpit.
17. Focus on your calling and giftings.
Don’t ever dabble into what Christ did not call you into. Let your calling and gift be the undergird of your ministry. Seek to work by what he called you into.
18. Never do ministry in competition with others.
Stop comparing yourself with others, for every ministry is different. Run only according to God’s timetable for your life.
19. Be accountable to a godly mentor.
You can’t succeed in ministry when you are a Lone Ranger. Prayerfully search out a godly mentor that can hold you accountable to godly living, not someone who is only interested in your tithes and seeds. A mentor that love and respect you but doesn’t fear to speak the truth to you, always.
20. Don’t ever help God to perform spurious miracles.
Be content and prayerful to let God do His work through you. Don’t put yourself under pressure to perform miracles, just to measure up to the expectations of people. Pray for people in need, but leave the result with God. You are never a miracle worker, only Jesus is. If you go and get strange powers to prophecy and perform miracles, you are simply setting up yourself for a great fall and judgment by the Lord
21. Don’t fight for Money, Position and Power in Ministry.
Don’t ever do ministry for money. We surely need money for ministry, but we are not in ministry for money. So, stop using gimmicks to get money in ministry. There are blood money, occultic money that can be given to you that will signal the end of your ministry. Beware of money, power and position. Don’t ever fight for them. Let God give you when and how He likes it for you.
22. Be an obedient child to God.
If you read your bible very well, all those who amount to anything in life and ministry were obedient. They display complete, total, regular, continuous and consistent obedience to the Word and will of God for their lives and ministries. Is it Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Paul and down through the centuries. Make sure you imbibe the Spirit of obedience to the Lord in everything. What one obedience will do, 100 days of fasting and prayers will not do it.

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