The temptation is always lurking. Yet, the leaders who remain steadfast in the face of trials and disappointments—who keep pouring life into others when their own lives are under attack—are the ones who staunchly resist this temptation. To them, compromise is simply out of the question.
When the pressures of ministry are mounting, have you heard temptation whispering in your ear, threatening to rob you of spiritual nourishment through the living Word and communion with the Father?
“Work is more urgent right now.”“Skipping today won’t really matter.”“I’ll find time later.”
The lion crouching outside our door hints that what we do for the Lord is far more important, more satisfying, more needful, and will make us more successful than the pursuit of knowing and enjoying Him. It sounds innocent enough, but wise leaders know that this lie from the enemy will devour our souls.
We must do the work of the ministry, yes, but at what cost? When time is our most precious commodity, we tend to cheat on either what is least important or what doesn’t produce the highest yield. Of course, we’d never speak such things aloud, but our actions tell the true story. It’s painfully hard to admit that when ministry squeezes us, we often respond by squeezing out our time with Jesus.
I turned to rock-solid women’s ministry leaders to address this age-old temptation that steers us off track, sets us up for lackluster ministry, and leads to eventual burnout. Their practical wisdom will help you retain joy and intimacy in your relationship with Jesus. These seven women have learned how to bolt the door to Satan’s schemes and nourish their souls while serving in every season of ministry.
7 Ways to Nurture Your Soul in Ministry
1. Seek an accountability partner.
Then Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God. (1 Samuel 23:16)
When Judy Dunagan was leading an active and growing women’s ministry at her church several years ago, she was so busy serving the Lord that she fell into a pattern of neglecting time alone with God, especially in the area of prayer. Judy sought out a prayer partner who also became her mentor. This mentor held Judy accountable, often asking how her prayer life was going. That accountability helped Judy reestablish a daily rhythm of prayer and worship that continues to fuel her walk with the Lord today.
2. Die to your agenda.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Through spending time with the Lord, Holly Fennell is learning that being a servant means dying to her agenda and being flexible. When she adopts God’s agenda, it alleviates unnecessary and unrealistic expectations placed on herself and others. His higher goals hand-deliver daily opportunities to love others and die to self. Submitting to God’s plan is a means to practice the character of Christ—humility, gentleness, patience, and long-suffering. For Holly, submitting to God’s plan enables her to pursue His priority to make disciples.
3. Remember God’s faithfulness.
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish,for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22–24)
Crickett Keeth says, “I’ve felt depleted at times over the past few years for various reasons—fatigue from this season we’re in with division and new forms of stress, and dealing with a changing congregation.” The one thing that refreshes Crickett is spending time in the Word, in prayer, and journaling each morning. That time keeps her focus on God and His character instead of focusing on the circumstances around her. Remembering who our God is and how He has worked in the past gives her strength and comfort for each day.
4. Depend on the Lord.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
If we say that we believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, able to do all that 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says it can do, then Heidi Jo Fulk insists we must live according to that truth. This women’s ministry director knows there is no fuel that is more effective and life-giving for us, and for the women to whom we minister. A dependence on the Lord and the Word lifts the weight off of us to produce any kind of results on our own. Instead, we have the constant hope of walking in obedience and faithfulness by His Word and for His glory.
5. Take extended times of refreshment.
The Lord is my shepherd;I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1–3)
Beyond a daily rhythm of personal prayer and worship, Maria Currey sets aside a few days each year for spiritual refreshment and renewal. She fills this time with the Word and activities that nurture her soul such as hiking, bird watching, reading an edifying book, watching a beautiful stage production, or baking something that ignites her senses. Maria also plans special dates with family or friends that don’t include talking about work or ministry. She recommends putting your phone away after work hours.
6. Use a Bible reading plan.
This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. (Joshua 1:8)
Regular time in God’s Word is an anchor to Cyndee Ownbey’s soul, especially during demanding ministry seasons. When her to-do list multiples, it can be tempting to remove her time in God’s Word and replace it with a task that requires immediate attention. She’s found even fifteen minutes in a passage of Scripture provides the connection and peace to conquer the tasks mounted before her. When she’s not preparing to teach a passage, Cyndee relies on an undated chronological Bible reading plan so she never feels behind.
7. Resist becoming spiritually “hangry.”
He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)
Meg Prein recognizes that when she responds from a place of irritability, it’s because she’s “hangry”—desperately in need of physical food. Even more, when she isn’t nourishing herself in time with the Lord, her spiritual state becomes hangry. Meg says being a wife, mom of three children, and having a full-time ministry has taught her to fight for time to read God’s Word and speak to Him in prayer. This sometimes means setting the alarm in the bathroom so she is forced to get out of bed or listening to audio Scripture in the car. Meg also asks God to prompt her to talk with Him throughout the day.
Run into the Arms of Jesus
Friend, what is the current condition of your soul? Will you run (not walk) to Jesus? Ask Him which of these seven ways are needed in your own life to consistently nourish your soul as you serve. Whatever He shows you, share it with a friend and ask her to pray for you. When we ask, the Lord promises to give us daily strength to resist the temptation of rushing ahead to work before rushing into the loving arms of Jesus.
We’re grateful to these women’s ministry leaders for contributing to this article:
- Judy Dunagan, Acquisitions Editor, Moody Publishers
- Holly Fennell, Women’s Ministry Director, Savannah, Georgia
- Crickett Keeth, Women’s Ministry Director, Memphis, Tennessee
- Heidi Jo Fulk, Women’s Ministry Director, Canton, Michigan
- Cyndee Ownbey, Founder Women’s Ministry Toolbox, Concord, North Carolina
- Meg Preim, Director of Women’s Initiatives, Medford, New Jersey
Take advantage of all Revive Our Hearts has to offer you as a women’s ministry leader by visiting ourLeader Connection page. There you’ll find a special message from Leslie Bennett, director of women’s ministry initiatives for Revive Our Hearts as well as a wide variety of content catered to your specific needs as a leader. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to join our leader Facebook group where you can connect with other women’s ministry leaders, get the latest on Revive Our Hearts resources and events, and more.
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about 7 Ways to Nurture Your Soul in Women’s Ministry.