Whatever ministry you are involved in, there are tremendous blessings attached and terrible hidden pitfalls as well. The pitfalls listed below are not specific to pastors and preachers. Instead, the pitfalls listed are relevant to every aspect of church ministry. So, whether you’re a media ministry leader, children’s teacher, student ministry volunteer, or pastor, these dangers concern you. Consider reading 8 Preacher Traps (That Can Develop Over Time) for more specific warnings to pastors and preachers. Your ministry is valuable, you’re making a bigger difference than you even realize, and Satan hates you for it. If you’re ministering in any capacity, there’s a big red spiritual target on your back. Be watchful because your adversary is on the prowl, but you can resist him with steadfast faith (1 Peter 5:7-9).
1. Neglecting daily personal devotions.
A significant danger in ministry is that most of our energy is focused on studying for others, and we can easily neglect to study the Word for our edification. This naturally creates a weak spiritual framework for our lives where others are fed while we remain hungry. We must maintain personal Bible study directed towards our needs. Avoid the pit of prayerlessness.
2. Lack of accountability.
There should always be a pastor, preacher, prophet, or leader that can tell us the truth and not just what we want to hear. King David needed to have a Nathan in his life to be saved (2 Samuel 12:1-13). Likewise, we all need a voice of authority regardless of how much power we may wield. Running from accountability is a sure sign of spiritual turmoil. Great leaders have great leaders, and they produce great leaders. Arrogance has all the answers, but humility seeks godly counsel.
3. Lack of self-control.
Self-control is a vital ability the ministry should exhibit even in areas that may or may not be classified as sinful. Impulsiveness may be charming, but it is also dangerous, especially when you are tasked with caring for the well-being of others. Finance and temper are two areas that are often troublesome for ministers who struggle with self-control. Furthermore, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). If self-control is not evident in your life, it’s symptomatic of deeper problems lurking under the surface.
4. Getting too comfortable.
I know some of us wish we struggled with being too comfortable, but before you laugh it off, remember that complacency is a tragedy. The church and its leaders must remain vigilant lest we fall asleep waiting on the Bridegroom’s return. Ministry can become stagnant and mundane if we aren’t consistently stretching, growing, refreshing, and renewing. Comfort and resistance to healthy change hinder churches and lull them into mediocracy.
5. Getting too defensive.
I realize that ministry and the things of God are constantly under severe attack, but it is unhealthy and counterproductive to be always defensive rather than offensive. Admittedly, sometimes the best offense is a good defense. However, that can morph into a hunker-down mentality when we should be advancing. Living on defense is a frustrating, discouraging, and exhausting way to exist. Instead, learn how to take offensive initiative. Remember, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Celebrate small gains and big wins. Take the fight to the enemy’s camp. Let Baal defend himself and let God prove Himself powerful (Judges 6:31).