As I look back on my life and ministry, I’ve realized that there have been three basic principles that have helped facilitate both growth and balance in my life and ministry.


Have you read Acts 18:5-6? It says, When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ ” (KJV)

Notice two things. First, Paul did what he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to do: Testify that Jesus is the Christ. This was his calling. This was his priority. Second, the fulfillment of that calling changed. First, that calling was to the Jews. When he realized that wasn’t going to work, he shifted his attention to the Gentiles. And that is where we see Paul’s success explode! We have to stay true to priority of our calling. That’s our priority. The means of fulfilling that calling may change but we must stay true to the compelling call of the Holy Spirit.

Vilfredo Pareto developed the now famous “Pareto Principle.” It shows that 20% of your effort result in 80% of your impact. The reverse is equally true, 80% of your effort usually results in only 20% of your impact.

20% of Your Effort Results in 80% of your Impact

God calls you to focus on your 20%. What are you compelled to do? What is your ministry compelled to do? What is your 20%? What are your “vital few”? Focus on them. Prioritize your ministry according to that calling. And be willing to change your methods to better fulfill that calling.


Moses was on a path to burnout and his ministry and community were on a path to implosion until Jethro told him to stop the insanity (Exodus 18:17-23)! The lesson we learn from Jethro is the need to decentralize. I’m not the only one who can provide care. I’m not the only one who can teach. I’m not the only one who know how to plan something. I’m not the only one who can lead a team. We’ve had to decentralize our ministry. And, I’m convinced that if you want to grow, you have to decentralize, too. Here’s how we decentralize.

Decentralized Student Ministry


I’ve given up on managing time. Rather, I try to manage vitality: spiritual vitality, emotional vitality, relational vitality, physical vitality, etc. This is different from managing time. Vitality is more important to maintaining balance than time is. Time can be wasted on either side of work or rest. But, you can’t afford to waste your vitality.

Author: Jim Murphy

Associate Pastor | NextGen Ministries Covenant Church, Bemidji, MN

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