Part of my study at Ridley involves me being in the Missional Leadership Learning Community. As part of this Peter Corney (Vicar at St Hillary's for 23 years) came and spoke to us about 'Going the Distance'. It was a great talk and I took some notes, which I'm going to reproduce here for your benefit.

Peter Corney

Going the Distance in ministry with JOY and HOPE

We are to be strong in the GRACE that is in Christ Jesus because otherwise things will eat away at us. That is, if we trust in approval of others, or our talent or personality, it will fail us and eat away at us. We need to be grounded in the Grace of God in Jesus Christ. (2 Tim 2)

2. Remember your calling (to be in ministry).

In order to go the distance you need good external and internal structures and disciplines. These will ensure you survive the marathon of ministry.

External Structures and Disciplines
  • always build teams around you
  • build prayer support for yourself
  • get a mentor (but be honest, you won't be totally 100% open and honest with them so don't promise it! He then sidetracked to make an interesting point about how all humans crave intimacy, with others and ultimately with God. But the road to intimacy is vulnerability, and all people are afraid of vulnerability and therefore aren't good at intimacy. I thought this was an exceedingly interesting observation that I'll think and blog more about no doubt.)
  • take regular time out (every day in prayer, every week with a day off, every month to go somewhere and be silent with God, and yearly by taking all your annual leave).
  • plan your professional development
  • structure your day/week/month - USE YOUR DIARY
  • be prepared (poor preparation leads to pathetic performance)
  • be well organised
  • prioritise family time (it's not worth having an 'awesome' ministry but losing the love and respect of your children or wife for it).
  • Make sure you structure your time because you have so much discretionary time in ministry
Internal Structures and Disciplines
  • Prayer (when where and how you pray will vary depending on your life stage, it doesn't have to be at 6am in the morning, if you have young kids for example, this is probably impossible)
  • Read God's word (might be small bits everyday, might be longer times of personal devotion with God's word 2 or 3 times a weak). Start small and work up to it.
  • Keep short accounts with God and with others (if you sin, sort it out straight away)
  • Manage your finances (be careful and be well thought and and generous in your giving, model it for those you lead).
  • Watch your appetite (if you're eating too much, drinking too much, watching too much tv, ask yourself what your trying to escape from, and deal with it).
  • Make a list of things you will never do/you will always do (eg. I will never harbour resentments, I will always admit quickly when I'm wrong, I will always be honest, I will always remember I'm preaching for God, not the approval of man).
Beware of Burnout
Watch out for the "Amber Light" of burnout. If you answer yes to the following 3 questions then you need to slow down and sort things out or you will burnout and you won't go the distance.
  1. In your relationships with peopel do you notice that you are moving away from people rather than towards them, i.e. you don't want to be too near people much? (you'd rather stay home and watch tv than deal with people).
  2. Are you becoming cynical?
  3. Are you shifting responsibility for how you are feeling about life and your ministry onto someone/thing else? (eg. My boss sucks, my youth are so apathetic that's why I feel bummed)