Dr. Charles Stanley on Persevering in Ministry
Charles Stanley on Handling the Demands
During a visit to our campus last year, Dr. Charles Stanley took a few moments to talk with us about life in ministry.
KS: How do you keep up with the demands of news and reading?
CS: I don’t try to keep up with everything that’s going on in the world. The central focus of my life is the Word of God. And my question every week is, “What do people need? What are they crying for? What are they hurting about? What does God have to say about it?” I read the Word of God. It’s not the only thing I read—I read commentaries and other things. But my primary interest is, “How do I teach the Word of God in such a fashion that people’s lives will be changed?”
KS: What suggestions do you have for those who are burned out?
CS: First of all, if you’re burned out, you have to ask why. The first time I heard this I didn’t like it, but if you’re burned out either your relationship with God is not right or you’re doing something in the wrong way. You have to admit, “What am I doing that’s not the will of God?”
On one occasion I got laid up for three solid months. I was doing three TV programs and pastoring. Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile.” I say if you don’t come apart, you’ll come apart.
Early in my ministry, I read biographies about how people really sacrificed, and I got legalistic about it. But one night I awoke at 2 a.m. from a dead sleep, and the Lord said, “Do you want to reach your full potential?” I said I did. “Then keep your heart clean, your mind clear, a balanced schedule, a healthy body, right relationships, and the faith to obey me.” I couldn’t write them down fast enough. At seventy-five, I realized if I was going to still be going at 95 like Dr. Pentecost, I would have to preach six weeks and take off six. Not long ago a woman in my congregation told me, “I like you taking these vacations. Because when you return, there’s something special going on.”
KS: What do you consider the hardest part of ministry?
CS: The most difficult part of ministry is probably the control of my time. I’m very blessed at this point in my life where there are a lot of things I don’t have to do. But I’ll never forget being a pastor of a small church where I had to do everything. And the management of time is a major, major critical area. I have to decide if I’m going to exercise. I have to decide about the family. I have to decide if I’m going to have private devotions. I have to decide how much time I’ll spend preparing for a message. What about the house, the car, this and that? All those are there all the time. And having a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus has to be the central focus.