By Erik Reed
Our lack of urgency as pastors, followed by our lack of discipline, severely hampers our ministry effectiveness and lies about the importance of our work.
Urgency is living and working like a clock is ticking to zero. Urgency is remembering there is a lot on the line. Urgency reminds you that you are a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. Urgency reminds you that you have an enemy and his bullseye is on your back.
Discipline is the intentional and purposeful actions of the will. Discipline is doing the right things, even if they are not easy things. Discipline is knowing what behaviors and actions will lead to my effectiveness and then executing them. Discipline tells excuses to be quiet.
Therefore, I have three major convictions that drive my belief in the need for urgency and discipline in our lives as pastors.
Living for God’s glory
First, we are to live for God’s glory. Paul reminds us that whether we eat, drink, or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Since we aim for God to be glorified in everything we do, we want to conduct our pastoral ministry in such a way that does. Laziness and apathy do not glorify God.
Believing the church is a beacon of hope
Second, I believe the local church is the hope of the world. The church stewards the only message that can save a human soul and change a person’s eternal destiny. If we truly believe the church matters, and that leading effective churches has eternal implications, then we must do so with urgency and discipline.
Decisions determine direction
Third, our daily choices and behaviors are determining the direction of our lives and ministries. We make choices each day about what we are going to do. If we choose the right actions and do the right things, there will be fruit. If we do not, we will not see the results we desire.
It bothers me that people doing far less important things have more urgency and discipline than most pastors. I recently heard a sports media personality discuss his daily routine. He talked about getting up at 4:30 am to go to the studio for his radio program.
After his radio program, he writes an article for his website. Then he prepares for a thirty-minute social media live-feed he does each day. He then hops on a national television show where he is one of the personalities. After all this, he watches sports, reads other political and sports stories, and prepares his content for the next day’s work.
Then he wakes up and does it all over again.
His routine impressed me. I was impressed by the urgency and discipline he lives with to be successful. But it also saddened me. I was sad because he does all that work for sports. His reward is fame and money.
I do not see this kind of urgency or discipline in the pastoral ministry, even though our work matters infinitely more than sports. There are things on the line with our work. Eternities are at stake. Our labor matters forever, but we often lack the urgency and discipline to do it well.
what is at stake
The urgency comes by reminding ourselves daily of what is at stake. Everyone we see will spend eternity somewhere. An enemy is seeking to kill, steal, and destroy both us and those we lead. People’s lives are filled with trials and struggles, and they need to learn how to walk with God. Our work is urgent, and we need to keep that at the forefront of our minds.
We must be disciplined. Choose to do the right things each day. What kind of things? Here is a snapshot:
- Get up early. No excuses. Successful people are not people who sleep in all the time. They wake up and attack the day. Pastors have every reason to get up.
- Go to bed. If you are going to get up early, then you need to go to bed at a decent hour so you get necessary sleep. Get off Netflix, put down the phone, and get some sleep.
- Exercise and eat healthy. You will feel better and be able to work more effectively.
- Manage your finances faithfully. Stay out of debt. Put money in savings and retirement. Give generously. If you want to lead a church of people who do this, be the example.
- Organize your time around priorities for maximum impact. One of the best uses of your time will be planning your week, and prioritizing your daily routines. Avoid a reactive schedule. Proactively choose how you are going to spend your time each day and each week and be sure to prioritize the things that will ensure maximum impact. Examples of things to prioritize and schedule: thinking about the vision and future, meeting with key leaders, meeting with key donors, preparation for important meetings or leadership opportunities, sermon prep/study, etc.
If we as pastors truly believe what we claim, our lives should be marked by urgency and discipline. If they are not, we are unsaying with our lives what we officially claim with our doctrine. It is time to change that. What we do matters forever.
Let’s live like it.