A Secret to Longevity in Ministry

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Mark Driscoll: After 17 wonderfully hard years of ministry at the same church doing the same thing week after week … something dawned on me: People are fascinating.

People are fascinating.

After 17 wonderfully hard years of ministry at the same church doing the same thing week after week — preaching the word of God and talking with people — something dawned on me: People are fascinating.

As a pastor, I get to hear people’s life stories. It’s rather incredible the kind of information people just walk up and tell me. And, it’s an honor to hear it.

For 17 years, I have met people every week from all stages of life, backgrounds, incomes, experiences, nations and perspectives. Television pales in comparison to real people with real lives and real stories. Nothing is as interesting as the honesty of seemingly average people. The truth is, there is no average person. Everyone is unique, interesting and surprising.

As one example, I recently had three people walk up to me, introduce themselves, and unpack their life without prompting.

The joyful, the devastating and the hopeful

The first was a young couple, married just that week, who were filled with joy and hope and covered with smiles. They were holding hands and asking for prayer. I laid hands on them both and prayed for them with great hope and joy. They closed their eyes, but I snuck a peek to see the big smiles on their face as they leaned toward one another very much in love. I was overjoyed.

The next was someone who that same week received divorce papers from their spouse of many years and was asking for prayer through tears. I encouraged them as best I could, and tried not to push too deeply as they were on the brink of completely losing it and struggling to maintain composure amid the crowd. I was devastated.

Pastor Mark Driscoll is the Preaching and Speaking pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is one of the world’s most downloaded and quoted pastors. His audience—fans and critics alike—spans the theological and cultural left and right. Follow his updates at twitter.com/pastorMark.

More from Mark Driscoll or visit Mark at http://www.marshillchurch.org/

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  • thewootensea

    Need someone who has been in ministry more than 40 years writing about longevity. even though Mark has lots of Wisdom in many areas, 17 years does not qualify as longevity. Good thoughts but not enough experience to write on this subject yet.

    • Deana Callins

      What IF Jesus Christ wrote it himself USING his hands? Jesus has All Power, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Since he IS a spirit. The Holy Spirit. I Believe this would be a small thing to God to speak through any “Living Vessel”. But, If the person you desire writes a book using only his own resources and his own experiences. Will it LAST forever? Is that sufficent? Will it have “Power” to get results?

    • Lee

      Jesus was in ministry for three and half years on earth. Paul wrote to Timothy and told him he must not allow people to undermine him because he was young. Sometimes looking at age, years, numbers, the physical can blind you from gaining the message. The Spirit of God which speaks is without age and is not bound by time. Someone with 17 years experience can add values to someone with only 3 years who may be browsing through these pages. Let us build one another up.

  • Robert Carlos

    Good for you Mark. Most of us in ministry, however, live in the real world where 10+ years or more in the same location becomes more of a liability for both pastor and congregation. Certainly every situation is different, and the most different of all is the church with the “famous” pastor or the “executive” pastor who is shielded from the real world of ministry.

  • Forlorn Hope

    I found your thoughts to be on target, Mark. I retired from the Air Force after 22 years and many of those years were as a First Sergeant (which is like being a Pastor but with much more authority.) The First Sergeant’s have a motto that I still hold too after 21 years of retirement and “only” 15 of those years as a full time pastor-“People are My Business”. The only purpose for a First Sergeant-the people; the only purpose for a Pastor, regardless of congregational size and length of pastoral time,-the people. Let us, who have been called, remember who called us and bloom where He has planted us.

  • RetiredAirman

    Great points. Love your preaching.

  • Deana Callins

    He that dwells in the “Secret” (place) of The Most High SHALL abide (under) the shadow of The Almighty. Psalm 91:1
    “Looking” at the character of the diciples that Jesus Christ ‘Chose for himself. None of them ever left Jesus company. No matter what they went through within themselves, or the things they went through together. They never left Jesus/The Word of God. They lacked nothing the entire time of “Following Jesus”. They “Received” Jesus/The Word of God. And (grew) in their Faith of him and his word as they continued to ‘stay/abide’ with him.
    We need to (visualize) in our hearts “Receiving” Jesus the person. Often, to remind us We Have Received Every Good Thing In Him. Nothing missing & Nothing Lacking.
    Jesus told Peter, when you are (converted by the Holy Ghost) strengthen your brethren!
    Love & Respect one another. As the mother of Jesus said to the (servents) at the (wedding) they attended together; “Whatsoever (he) says to you, Do It”.
    Praise his holy name! The Prayers of the “Righteous” avail much. God bless all those who are called to the Lord’s wedding.
    1 Peter 3:11-13
    For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

  • Deana Callins

    We should “Not” deny the Power of The Lord. His Resurrection Power goes far beyond our understanding. There are no limits to what God does and gave Jesus Christ. He does not choose things that make sense to the knowledge of man. That is why it’s “Called” Faith. All those chosen by him that are Written In he Bible “Began small & humble” and He Made Them Great. God Honored them 1st; not men. And those who Stayed in Faith and humble; REMAINED. And The Lord’s work they did by receiving his revelation also; Still Remains Today & Forever. Because, It was of The Lord.

  • Deana Callins

    Wait On The Lord, I Say, Wait. Someone might (wonder) what are we waiting for?
    The Manifestation (of) all he has Spoken. What he “said” is already done/finished. We patiently wait for the manifested of ALL he said would BE. God bless those who “Seek” him with their whole Heart.

  • Pastor D

    Thanks for the insight and the exhortation

  • Oluwafemi Akinwande

    so right and so true. as a pastor, my most boring moments are times when eziting people do not share their memories and experiences with me