How to Go From Surviving to Thriving in Your Ministry

(Unsplash/Warren Wong)

I believe you can thrive in ministry. I know some have adopted the "hunker down 'til Jesus comes and hold out faithful to the end" mentality.

But I believe God has so much more for you than just living in survival mode.

Check out this verse.

"The righteous will thrive like a green leaf" (Prov. 11:28, NIV).

Another verse reminds us that our position shouldn't be defensive, but offensive.

"On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18b, MEV).

Gates don't attack. They are attacked.

God is ready to empower you to be a thriving, kingdom-advancing, impact-making champion.

How do you move from just surviving to thriving?  It can be found in the word "Thrive."  Ready?  Here we go.

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"God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble" (James 4:6b).

Thriving begins with being teachable. And teachability is grounded in humility. It's always being in a posture of growth and learning. It's welcoming feedback.

Think about the difference between Play-Doh and a rock. Play-Doh is flexible, adaptable, impressionable, stretchable and can be molded into whatever the owner desires.

But a rock is hard, set in its way, inflexible, rigid. A lot harder to work with than Play-Doh, right?

Be like Play-Doh. When you do, God's favor will settle upon your life and you will begin to thrive.


Tyranny would say that you thrive by taking advantage of others. That you thrive by putting others down. That by making others smaller, you get bigger. That you thrive by looking after yourself first and doing whatever it takes to get ahead...even if it means hurting others.

But that's not how you thrive in the kingdom of God. Jesus came and showed by example that you truly thrive not when you hurt others, but when you help others. He modeled this so well, didn't He?  His life could pretty much be summed up with two words.

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

Thriving doesn't come from being served, but rather from serving others. Thriving doesn't come from getting, but rather from giving.

If you want to thrive, then spend your time, energy and resources helping others thrive. As you help others thrive, you will find yourself rising with them.


In order to thrive long-term, you must stay relevant. This means regularly taking a look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. Evaluating. Asking the hard questions. Being willing to change and adjust as needed.

There are ministries that used to thrive. But now they are not. Why? They got stuck in a rut of complacency. They settled for the comfortable route instead of charting a new course. What was once working gradually became irrelevant, but they put on their blinders and continued to stay the course they were familiar with.

If you are going to thrive, you must realize that what got you where you are today, probably won't take you where you need to go tomorrow.

 Honor the past. Learn from the past. But don't live there. The past should be a point of reference, not a place of residence.

When you do this, you can thrive and your prime will always be in front of you.


If the ministry you lead is going to thrive, then you must first thrive. And that comes first and foremost by putting your first calling first.

What is your first calling?  It's found in this verse.

"He ordained twelve to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mark 3:14).

Notice what your first calling is as a disciple of Jesus. It's to spend time with Him. It's to be in His presence. To walk with Him. To talk with Him. To listen to Him. To read His Word. To share your heart with Him.

And then ... out of your thriving relationship with Jesus, will come a thriving ministry for Jesus.

It's easy to get so busy working for Jesus, that you don't take time to be with Jesus, isn't it?  But when we slow down and spend time with Him, He fills us with the power, wisdom and anointing that we need to thrive first as His follower, and then as His minister.

Make an appointment each day with Jesus and keep the appointment. It's the most important meeting you will have each day.


Staying focused on the vision God has placed in your heart will keep you thriving. Your best days of ministry are not behind you. They are in front of you.

Stay committed to the vision. Don't give up on the vision. Don't let valleys or tough times or setbacks keep you from moving toward the vision.

God has so much more He wants to do in you and through you. Stay pumped up! Stay fired up! Keep your eyes on what God has for you tomorrow! 

When other people see the passion you have for the vision, it will spread. A thriving ministry is birthed from a thriving vision.


A commitment to excellence is another key factor to thriving in ministry. What is excellence?  It's the mindset found in this verse.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Eccl. 9:10, NIV).

Excellence is doing your very best with what God has given you. And when you are committed to doing your best with what you have now, God will reward you and cause you to thrive. This principle is evident in this verse.

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much" (Luke 16:10, NIV).

Don't be satisfied with the status quo. Don't just do enough to get by. Give it your best and you will thrive.

If you are tired of just surviving in ministry and want to thrive, then:

  • Be Teachable
  • Help others
  • Stay Relevant
  • Say— I am going to thrive so the ministry can thrive
  • Pursue the Vision God has placed in your heart
  • Be committed to Excellence

 Praying that you and your ministry will thrive!

Dale Hudson has been in children's ministry for over 27 years. He is the director of children's ministry at Christ Fellowship Church in south Florida. Christ Fellowship has nine campuses and ministers to over 25,000 people on weekends. Dale leads a children's ministry staff team of over 70 and a volunteer team of over 2,600. He has authored 100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Children's Ministry100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Preschool MinistryChildren's Ministry in the 21st CenturySunday School That Worksthe Top 100 book, and If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.

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