Consistent Time in the Word
The practical things you need to do in your life to remain faithful in ministry are the same means of grace that are available to every believer. First is time in the Word of God—regular consistent exposure to the Word. We all understand that Jesus said in John 15 that the Word purges, purifies, prunes us. Jesus said in John 17 that we would be sanctified by the Word of God.
So, to stay faithful in ministry, you need to be under the sanctifying impact of the Word of God. I would remind pastors that maybe the main reason that you ought to be an expositor is not so that you can preach to people, but so that you can expose your own heart to every word of Scripture. The greatest benefit to me of fifty years of expositing the Word of God has been its purifying work in my own heart and the ongoing sanctification that the Spirit of God has done with the Word of God in my own life because I spent twenty to thirty hours per week in the study of the Word of God in preparation to preach, teach, and to write. I wouldn’t exchange that for anything.
To be surrounded by people who love Scripture, love Christ, and want to honor him is absolutely a priceless gift.
Consistent Time in Prayer
The second thing, of course, is prayer. We have been called to prayer and the ministry of the Word, staying in communion with God, even praying the Scripture as you study it and as you read it. Keep open accounts with God with regard to confession of sin. Call out to God to purge you and purify you and keep you away from temptation. That prayer life is absolutely critical. Be in open communion with the Lord all the time so that there aren’t any issues that aren't right on the tip of your tongue as you come into his presence.
The other thing is to surround yourself with godly people. That is so critical. It’s fine to see pastors today who want to build up the talent in their ministries and maybe they get people who are good at graphics or good at design or good at media or whatever it might be. But who you really need to have around you are people who are really good at honoring God, who are very good at godly living, who think deeply about the things of God, who long to honor Christ, whose conversation is about Christ, whose conversation is about the things of God, whose life is committed to the glory of God. Surround yourselves with those kinds of people.
That’s been a tremendous blessing in the ministry that the Lord has given me through the years. I’ve always been surrounded by men and women who love the Word—both written and the Word incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. And to be surrounded by people who love Scripture, love Christ, and want to honor him is absolutely a priceless gift.
You’re going to pick up the habits of the people you’re closest to. They’re going to lift you up or they’re going to pull you down. The security of a pastor and spiritual leader may be tied in the future. It may be tied to the kind of people that are closest to him. You need to be sure those are the people that draw you closer to Christ, that draw you closer to being a godly, faithful Christian—because that’s going to show up in your ministry.
Paul’s deeply rooted understanding that his calling was a totally undeserved expression of God’s great mercy to him was itself one of the core convictions that kept him faithful to the end.
There are lots of people who are never really confronted by the wretchedness of their own hearts.
Realize you don't deserve anything, realize that it is a privilege, honor, and a mercy that you've even been called into ministry.