Tim Raymond prompted me to think about this question since he just wrote “What I have learned after five years of pastoring.” I pretty much agree with all of his list, which included:
- Pastoral ministry requires far more courage than I ever dreamed.
- Expositional preaching is a far more effective medium than I ever imagined.
- The temptation to quit the church or quit pastoral ministry altogether is rather frequent, but perseverance is worth it.
- Neglecting important ministries is terribly easy but also deadly in the long-term.
- If there is a strong love-bond between the pastor and his flock – the congregation believes that I love them and I believe that they love me – that will cover a multitude of sins.
Excellent list, Tim. I’ve found these to be the exact same things I’ve learned here at the church I serve. I’d also add the following:
- I constantly need to focus my life in a way that allows for adequate time for prayer and devotional reading. It is so easy to become distracted by the constant situations that come up in the lives of people I serve. Phone calls and meetings are so regular that the need to relax often is also a distraction away from spending time with the Lord.
- Getting mad just isn’t worth it. Throughout the last five years I’ve had to deal with enough people to know that not everyone who says the follow Jesus are going to actually do that when difficult situations arise. Gossip and slander and lies will abound, but it just isn’t worth it to get mad. I need to care more about what God wants or thinks than what people think.
- Keeping the the main thing produces mature Christians. When we spend all of our time talking about hobby horses, we often produce people who know a lot about one thing and not a lot about the main thing. The gospel needs to be central.
- Influencing people’s hearts is far more effective than controlling their actions. This has been my latest lesson. I can’t control people’s actions if I want them to have heart-felt repentance and to do things for the right reasons. Rather than hand out lists, it’s better to teach truth and influence people by teaching Scripture and living my life consistently .
That’s all I have right now.
HT: Justin Taylor.