Faith & Culture

7 Habits Christians In Ministry Need To Quit

Young people reading the Bible together

People in full-time ministry have transformed most of our lives in a direct or indirect way. Whether it was your youth pastor that took you out to coffee weekly or a stranger in the mission field that inspired you to help the poor through social media. A lot of good things happen because of those who choose to give their lives to serve others and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, being in full-time ministry has its disadvantages. Below are a list of negative habits that Christians can fall into, especially those in full-time ministry:

1. Isolate yourself from non-Christians

Playing it safe and avoiding non-Christians can bring some temporary protection for you and your family; but in this day and age, you will never be able to fully hide from the “evil outside”. Even if you do, social media and the internet make everything accessible and difficult to avoid. So, instead of playing “safe” and hiding, It is crucial to be in touch of what is out there and set a standard through open conversations on what is healthy and what is not. It’s one thing to set boundaries to avoid compromise and it’s another thing to hide comfortably around other Christians.  They will know we are Christians by our love; that love is hard to show if we choose to be in isolation. Jesus was very clear that we are not called to hide but we are called to walk in the light and to stand in the midst of darkness and shine.

2. View Full-time ministry as a greater calling

Whether you are preaching to millions or scrubbing the floors of a coffee shop, In God’s eyes, the pay is the same. It’s about being faithful and excellent to what has been given in your hands. Unfortunately, many of those in full-time ministry are only doing it because they think doing anything “secular” is a lesser calling. This may lead them to not see a God-given opportunity for a potential career shift, or a business idea that can go hand in hand with the ministry. We must redefine what full-time ministry means; If you are a nurse helping someone in pain or an entrepreneur with a business that brings in finances to the kingdom and creates an uplifting atmosphere at work, you are in “full-time ministry”.

3. Over-Spiritualize Everything

When you are in full-time ministry, you tend to see everything from a spiritual perspective. Questions such as “Am I hearing God clearly?” and “Is this an attack from the enemy?” can become daily inquiries that cause us to make everything spiritual. If the cashier in the grocery store is being rude, the immediate assumption is that this must be “demonic” rather than giving that individual the benefit of the doubt and seeing it as an opportunity to love and encourage them. If you get a speeding ticket, you assume it’s the devil warring against you rather than just learning to be more careful while driving and have it as an opportunity to trust God more with your finances, etc….

4. Get Into Arguments on Social Media

Before you make your next statement on social media, you should pick whether you want to win the argument or win the person over. The Bible is meant to bring healing to the hurt not a whip to the lost or confused. Using scripture verses to push your theology and political views on social media rarely ends with good outcomes. Typically, others will feel shut down by your verses and get more hurt or even offended at the Bible and God. So, before you “correct” or “rebuke”, consider taking that friend out for coffee, listen to them, sympathize, and only when you earn your right to be heard, share with them a better alternative. We see Jesus doing that with the woman at the well. He listened, he asked questions to get her thinking, and he shared the happy news; He brought light to the darkness and she left the conversation a new person.

5. Become Passive

Being content and being passive can look similar but they are very different. For many full-time ministry positions (not all), there are not as many hard deadlines and it becomes harder to measure the progress. A lot of times this can lead into lethargy and a lack of vision. We use terms like “I am waiting on the Lord” or “Whatever God wants” as an excuse to not be active, make clear goals, have expectations from ourselves and others. It’s crucial to surround ourselves with others that can hold you accountable and to give yourself clear goals and plans for your work, personal life, and finances. If your ministry lacks that, consider starting the conversations with others and put systems in place that will help you and others be more active, focused, and productive.

6. Look Down on Higher Education

There is a growing trend among Christians, specifically those in full-time ministry, to look down on higher education. Even though our schools and universities are teaching things that do not align with the Christian faith, the worst response we can have is to avoid it all together. We are suppose to do the exact opposite: Listen and learn about those different beliefs and figure out what we believe in and learn how to challenge those false ideas. Otherwise, we become irrelevant and ignorant arguments about evolution, abortion, homosexuality, etc. that are weak and lack any logical, historical, or scientific verification. It becomes evident to others that we don’t actually understand what we are talking about. In addition, if we want to see change for the better, we need more believers in the congress, hospitals, and schools.

7. View Money as Evil

The love of money is the root of all evil; but, money in itself isn’t. If you are working as a servant to money, that’s evil. If you are learning how to make money serve  you, that’s wisdom. The truth is, money is power. Money can bring clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, and the good news to the lost.  If the topic of having more money makes you uncomfortable, you may be embracing a false poverty mentality. Throughout scripture, we see God blessing and entrusting money to many that loved him; Joseph is a prime example. It is important to have an open dialogue with God about money and learn to identify opportunities where you can gain money; which is power to bring positive impact to your family, community, and those who are in need.

BONUS: Choosing a Silly Name on Social Media:

If you put your identity in your full-time ministry job, it starts showing off real quickly. Let’s make it clear – No one thinks it’s cool when people start changing their names on Facebook to “Pastor John”,  “Beloved Ashley”, “prophet Michael”,  having your name in Hebrew, or changing your name all together to Hepzibah, ChildOfGod, or Esther – Even if your intention is pure or you are simply excited about what you do, not only is it not cool, it can make you appear religious and unapproachable.

What other habits in the full-time ministry culture do you think are negative?

—Johnny Youssef

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  • gregory dean potts Jul 11,2016 at 1:40 pm

    thanks for all your insights that Christ in you has seen and shared with your brothers and sisters. I have come to see my EGO as the real enemy of my spirit. He (my ego) hates to fail making my sense of self worth less than I can handle. Christ in me my only hope of glory—-may self perish so Christ may be clearly seen.

  • David Misener Dec 21,2015 at 11:28 pm

    Johnny, I love your new site! Thank you for honoring the Bickles the way you have. It speaks volumes about the kind of man you have become! Well done!

  • Chelsea Davidson Sep 9,2015 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for writing this. These sort of attitudes and mentalities had caused a jadedness in me over the years, but I have processed a lot of it and learned the heart of God through it all. I feel like these are simply steps in the process of zeal being grown out of immaturity. I feel like the Lord has walked me through them all and shown me His heart and character in the midst of it. Okay maybe not arguing on Social Media… or having a weird name on social media, either. I’ve kept my way pure in those areas 😉 haha

    Anyways, thanks for posting this.

  • Phar Jun 7,2015 at 9:51 pm

    Loved reading this Johnny!

  • Connor Jun 5,2015 at 6:49 pm

    Love this bro! Keep it up!

    • Johnny Youssef Jun 5,2015 at 10:27 pm

      Thank you Connor!

  • Kristina Jun 5,2015 at 4:28 pm

    This is good! Unfortunately, though I was never in full-time ministry, I bought into this mentality from the leaders I respected who were. Six out of the eight habits you listed were my life for far too many years. It’s only been in the last few years, since coming to KC, that I have begun to understand this, unravel and process the lies, and begin walking in truth and freedom. I never knew how deep the root of religion ran in my life, and how damaging it had been-affecting nearly every area of my life. Thank you, for writing this!

    • Johnny Youssef Jun 5,2015 at 10:27 pm

      Thanks for sharing Kristina!

  • Ivy Jun 5,2015 at 4:01 pm

    Love the insights. ..lots of wisdom here!

    • Johnny Youssef Jun 5,2015 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks Ivy!!!

  • Addison Jun 5,2015 at 2:25 pm

    Great post & article. I agree with what you have to say & respect your views as I am someone who does full time ministry. Never thought I would be doing ministry work but I hope to be an example that all walks of life have a strong correlation to faith ( whether they know it or not). It all falls on LØVE.

    Another view point I would talk about is how the church & people in ministry need to meet people where they are at in life. The restoration process starts by seeing the world As It Ought To Be.

    I am reading the book The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. I highly recommend this book !!

    Cheers mate.

    • Johnny Youssef Jun 5,2015 at 10:26 pm

      Absolutely! I will check the book. Thanks Addison.

  • Niki Jun 5,2015 at 10:20 am

    Johnny I think this is great. I’d like to say that I think in general people are very “I” focused. Now in the Christian faith we ought to be “God” focused. Specifically in the realm of worship music. My husband and I find it so hard to find good worship music because most of it is focusing on “my sin, my problems, my weakness” so on and so forth. When we should be “God you are great! God has what I need! Thank you Lord that you give me peace and I have peace!” anyways, so I’d like to see that shift and let worship become uplifting because we are focusing on the source of life. Hope to hear more on business and entrepreneurship.

    • Johnny Youssef Jun 5,2015 at 10:25 pm

      Great point! Thanks for sharing Niki!

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