“It’s different when you work in the real world.”
I’d been in ministry less than a year when I heard this comment for the first time. Initially, it didn’t bother me. I knew what she meant. She was comparing my role in local church ministry to her work in a fast-paced corporate environment. I couldn’t deny there were significant differences between our daily jobs. But after working in the church and with churches for almost two decades, I can confirm that life in ministry is very real.
On any given day, you might go straight from an energizing conversation with a new leader to a heartbreaking conversation with someone experiencing deep pain in their life. Sometimes it happens within the course of the same meeting. I once met with a vendor who was hoping to sell a product to our church. By the end of our meeting, he was in tears, pouring out his struggles about finding God’s purpose for his life. He didn’t close a sale that day, but we did spend time in prayer, and as it turns out, that was what he really needed. That was his real world.
During one meeting with an executive minister, we talked about some tough decisions he was facing. He was torn. He knew an upcoming plan was the right thing to do for his church, but he also knew it would be hurtful to some individuals. Undoubtedly, there would be members of the congregation who wouldn’t understand.
As we closed our meeting, I asked if I could pray for him. He agreed, and I spent a few minutes praying for wisdom and perseverance in his leadership. As I left, he said with a shrug, “Thanks. I always pray for others, but people don’t usually offer to pray for me.” My heart sank. This was his real world as a church leader.
Sometimes, it’s lonely at the top. All leaders need people who are committed to praying for them. Whether you’re an executive in a corporate setting or an executive pastor at a church, consider the question: Who is praying for you this week?
If you don’t immediately have a few names that come to mind, put this on your list for personal development this year. There is a sweet mystery to prayer. God works through it, and He knits our hearts to those people who are consistently on our prayer list. And the truth is, we all need help as we navigate our journey in the real world.
Here are a few ideas for establishing strong prayer relationships:
- Ask God for help. Pray and ask God to lead you to some people who could become your trusted prayer supporters. Watch for those people in your daily conversations and connections.
- Start small but get started. You want to find prayer partners who are genuine and trustworthy. Is there someone you regularly interact with who makes you feel safe? Have they proven their character over time? Have they given you wise counsel in the past? Find the balance between trusting no one and trusting everyone. To get started, ask one or two people to pray for you on a regular basis. Start by sharing simple prayer needs and grow into asking for prayer on more significant issues as appropriate. Or if you decide to opt for a larger prayer team, keep requests more general in nature.
- Establish consistency. Commit to a regular schedule of sending prayer requests and updates on the things you’ve been praying about together. Schedule a time to send a weekly text, email or meeting via video call. Keep your prayer partners updated and let them see how God is at work!
- Keep it simple. Send regular, concise prayer requests to your prayer partners. Often, it’s not necessary to explain the full backstory of a tough situation. Simply share your request in a few short lines and take heart in the fact that God knows the rest of the details involved.
- Express gratitude. Let others know how much you appreciate their consistent prayer for you. Periodically, send a quick note of encouragement and thanks to let them know what this means to you.
At Fishhook, we regularly pray for our friends and partners in ministry. Let us know how our team can pray for you this week by commenting below or emailing us!