By Rob Hurtgen
More than likely, you—like most other pastors—are going through a crisis in your ministry right now, but it’s not going be your last crisis.
The key to surviving a crisis isn’t limiting the number of them but learning how to navigate them.
How you respond to a crisis in your life and your pastoral ministry can grow a pessimistic and cynical spirit or will enable you to endure and thrive in future times of difficulty.
Thankfully, within the pages of the Bible, we’re not only given examples of those whom faith thrived in adversity but principles necessary to flourish amid the storms of life.
1 Peter 1:13 is one such verse presenting four steps to survive a crisis in the pastorate ministry.
Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1. Remember who you are
First, Peter says, “Therefore,” remember who you are. Peter delivers a simple but powerful reminder that the men and women are in Jesus.
Despite the hardships, difficulty, and persecution imposed on those churches, Jesus has given them a living hope. Who they are is critical to know how they endure.
Surviving through a pastoral crisis requires remembering whose you are and who you are.
Your identity isn’t in your position, the accolades, or invitations to speak at the conference. Your identity is in Jesus.
Pastors, it’s easy for us to align who we are with what we do. After all, nearly everything in ministry and life is wed together.
Separating who the pastor is from what the pastor does is challenging at best.
However, to thrive in a lifetime of ministry, especially during times of crisis, you need to habitually remind yourself that you’re first and foremost one who’s saved by Jesus.
If the Lord has blessed you with a wife and children, then you’re also a husband and a father.
Lastly, you have the calling and the privilege to serve a local congregation as its pastor.
Separating whose you are, who you are, and what you do is essential.
2. Be ready to act
Second, Peter calls for them to have their minds “ready for action.”
Here the apostle delivers a plea to be mentally prepared with a sense of urgency, expectation, and endurance—ready for what’s next.
Thinking actively during a crisis asks what can be done with the situation you’re facing.
Active thinking does not dwell on was lost, nor does it focus on what or who caused the crisis.
Active thinking also doesn’t attempt to draft too much certainty forecasting the future. Active thinking has two steps: What should be done now? What needs to be done next?
The difference between those who survive a crisis and those who are crushed by them is the ability to define the one small step that can be taken today. Then determine a new action tomorrow.
3. Live with sober-mindedness
Third, Peters calls for “sober-mindedness.” That antithesis of sobriety is inebriation.
An inebriated mind doesn’t think clearly, believes what’s not true, and has reduced inhibitions. An inebriated mind lacks clarity.
Pastor, in your crisis, act with sober-mindedness. Sober-mindedness speaks to interpreting the situation you’re facing with clarity.
As an inebriated person has difficulty distinguishing between what’s real and what’s false, so does inebriated thinking.
Sober-mindedness addresses your ability to receive what’s happening, separate what’s true and false, and interpret what needs to be responded to and what should be ignored.
While active thinking accesses what’s going on, sober-mindedness is the ability to understand what’s happening and how to respond.
4. Have hope in what’s to come
Finally, in verse 13, Peter calls the churches to set their hope entirely on the grace they have and will receive.
Peter is commanding his readers to live for something greater than their immediate moment.
A command to live with the eyes of our hearts on the eternal kingdom and the One who’s bigger than our problems.
Enduring in times of crisis requires living above the hardship and looking to Jesus—to look to a certain future rather than be entangled to the ever-changing present.
The more we look to Christ, the smaller the world, and our problems in them, become.
Until the Lord tarries or calls you home, you’re not in your last crisis. There’ll be others.
If you follow Peter’s instructions, you’ll survive and be better for it. Your faith will be stronger on the other side of the valley. Just don’t give up.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is the husband to Shawn, father of five, pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri, and doctoral student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs at robhurtgen.wordpress.com.