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Richard Nathan - Vineyard Columbus, Ohio

Pastors and church planters face enormous demands as we try to juggle family responsibilities, ministry, and often, school and part-time jobs. How can we live sustainable lives? We read of tragic pastoral failures on a weekly basis. Most pastors don’t last in the ministry for five years (perhaps the only way we pastors are like pro football players!). I’ve been a pastor for 25 years. Here are ten practices that have enabled me to pastor for the long-haul.

#1 Build a rock-solid daily personal devotional life with God. This simply means that you spend time every day soaking in God’s presence. You can handle an enormous amount of pressure, if your foundation is solid. Pressure is not the problem. Weak foundations are the problem. If your foundation is shaky, you won’t be able to handle very much at all. Maybe you’ve heard the expression: “You can’t fire a cannon out of a canoe.” If you are really going to accomplish something; if you are going to be able to achieve and do the great things that God has in store for you to achieve and do, you need a strong foundation. The cannon of your life needs to be bolted into granite. And the granite of your life is your rock-solid personal time with God every day.

#2 Choose a prayer partner, who is a peer and with whom you can be utterly transparent. What I have personally done in my own life for the past 20 years and what we require of every pastor on the staff of Vineyard Columbus is to have a prayer partner. At Vineyard Columbus we take one day every month outside of the office talking and praying with our prayer partner. We have a set of accountability questions that we ask each other such as:

a. Are you struggling with sexual purity in any way? b. Have you seen any pornography, or anything on TV or in a movie that you shouldn’t have watched? c. Have you done anything sexually you shouldn’t have done? d. Are there any emotional attachments forming with someone who is not your spouse? e. Have you handled your money and financial dealings with absolute integrity? f. Have you experienced any breach in any relationship? Are you at peace with everyone? g. Have you forgiven everyone for everything? h. Are you experiencing intimacy with God on a regular basis?

#3 If you are married, schedule a weekly date night with your spouse. It is really important to stay current and to fuel romance and intimacy with your spouse. My wife and I have a regular date every Monday. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It could be coffee and a long walk through a park or a leisurely breakfast. But schedule a weekly date with your spouse outside your home.