Over the last 10 years of ministry, the Lord has always been faithful and in the first 6 months of Pastoring here are some lessons He has been teaching me and reminding me of.
1. The Lord can do far more than you ever expected if you commit everything yo Him.
2. Challenges you never could have foreseen will arise, but just take it step by step with Jesus.
3. Invest in pastoral care – care for and about your flock.
4. Learning to tighten up your sermon prep and teaching prep time, this resource was suggested to me, and I had my doubts, but it has been a great help (8 Hours or Less: Writing Faithful Sermons Faster). It is not all about speed but on simplicity and faithfulness to the Word. And the church family you serve are not “your people,” they are Christ’s. They do not need antidotes, 3 steps to their best life now, stories where you are always the hero, or false excitement. They need Jesus, their souls need to be fed His Word. Exalt Jesus. Preach the Word. Pray the Word. Ask God to help you live the Word.
5. Grieve over sin, have a contrite heart, but lovingly and boldly call for repentance as you engage in mediation. Follow Matthew 18’s methodology and talk about it often.
6. In crisis and prosperity, hold fast to the Word and the Gospel.
7. Do what God says, how He says, and leave the results to Him. We believe not just in the inerrancy of God’s Word, its truthfulness in regard to what to believe; but in the sufficiency in the how to of methodology. Methodology is not open to your choice, preference or bright-idea. Obey.
8. Do not seek numbers, keep your eyes on Jesus and making disciples not drawing crowds of fans.
9. Surrender the finances of the church to God and don’t take them up again. Jesus is the head of the house, obey Him and don’t handle the money (that’s a personal rule for myself but I believe its good advice for all ministers to follow), don’t know what individuals give, or fundraise – do not open the door to temptation. Trust God. You are not called to be a fundraiser. You are expected as a Believer to be a wise steward, but you are not a salesman. You are to preach and teach freely…for freely you have received.
10. Balance in rest – the hardest for most of us. Being still and sitting “on the front porch” a while do not come easily in a ministry world that screams for pastors to be driven and where most of us often put in 7 days a week and 60-70+ hours. Practice Sabbath. Spend unplugged time with your family where you are inaccessible to others. Be fully present with your wife and kids (I’m not married, nor do I have kids but I notice the principle when I am with my immediate family).
11. Have no plan B. The Lord had better be the One who called you to serve the church you serve. If you are not called, get out of the pulpit. You are not there as a stepping stone to “something better and bigger.” Crucify the desire for fame and prominence, take up the attitude and posture of Jesus’ ministry – servanthood, words in the pulpit flowing from solitude with God, much time in prayer, proclaiming God’s truth revealed in the Scriptures (the truth sets people free), genuinely caring about people.