I will soon celebrate 40 years in full-time ministry. During the course of my career, I have pastored four churches, one of which was a church plant. I am now in my third interim pastorate, and I continue to serve as a strategy coordinator with the state convention.
I have often thought back on my ministry and asked the question, “What would I do differently if I could go back to the time when I was stepping into my first pastorate?”
Here are three areas for young pastors to consider.
- I would make sure I was connecting deeply with God each day in prayer and Scripture meditation.
Pastors are busy, and it is easy for the spiritual and emotional well to run dry. We need to keep our well filled with fresh revelation from God every day. We need to minister out of the fullness of the Spirit and not our own strength.
- I would manage my time according to priorities instead of reacting to the tyranny of the urgent.
It’s easy for a pastor to sit down in his office, turn on his computer and start answering emails, returning phone calls and taking any communication that comes to him during the day. He can easily spend the whole day responding to needs and requests and miss out on the high priority responsibilities of a pastor. Responding to needs and requests are important, but pastors should prioritize feeding the congregation by faithfully teaching and preaching God’s Word.
- I would work with great passion for about 50 hours a week, then go home and spend lots of time with my family.
It is sinful to cheat ourselves and our families out of the time that is needed for refreshment and nurture. I simply worked way too many hours and my family suffered. Here I am 40 years later and the people I pastored barely remember me. But I still have the same family and I can see ways they are still suffering because of my negligence and over-commitment to church ministry.
Your family members are the ones who will make the decision about how you will be cared for when you cannot care for yourself. And they will be the ones who will cry at your funeral. Give them the attention they deserve.
These are just a few things I would do differently. Consider these areas in your own ministry as you move forward in this great work of the kingdom of God. What would you add to your list?