(These follow an earlier article on “Joe’s 10 ironclad rules for success,” which were mostly silly and intended to provoke a hearty laugh. Now, we get just a tad more serious. But, not to worry, not much more serious.)
11. If you study hard for your sermons and eventually get to a big church, you can hire research assistants to do your studying for you. Success brings its privileges.
12. If you look at the ceiling while you preach, you may overcome your shyness but you will end up preaching over the heads of your people.
13. Your congregation will appreciate your mastering the Greek and Hebrew languages for your Bible study, but will appreciate it even more if you never bring it up.
14. Your people will share your pride in your seminary degrees (bachelor, masters, doctorate) so long as you do not do so yourself. But if you prominently display your academic accomplishments, some will figure you to be a proud peacock and will devote themselves to assisting the Lord who “resists the proud but exalts the humble.”
15. If you dress the same way your people dress for church, most will assume your spiritual life is no better than theirs and they will lose confidence in you. Best to stay one notch ahead of them, both in your attire and your spirituality.
16. The best way to get the church to do something about the decrepit parsonage they ask you to live in is to have some of the godlier members catch you trying to repair it. They will be ashamed, and that’s always a good thing.
17. If your church has a nice sign out front, the kind with changeable messages, if you never change it, motorists will never look at it. To get them to see it, you must refresh it weekly. Ironclad rule. And if you really want them to read it, occasionally put something wonderfully silly on it.
18. If you are insecure in the ministry, do not let your assistants fill the pulpit in your absence. Justify this by saying your people deserve the best, even if the guest preachers are no better than average. This will guarantee that no one will ever say, “The youth minister can out-preach our pastor.” (They will, however, find it out when he leaves to start his own church and everyone flocks to hear him. But that’s a risk you have to take.)
19. If the pastor’s wife is gorgeous and wears stylish clothes, the men of the church will adore her and respect the preacher a little more. (Don’t ask me why; it’s just one of the laws of humanity.) However, many of the women will assume her to be vain and conceited and will have a smoldering suspicion about a man of God who would marry such a superficial hussy.
20. If you try to run your ministry based on all the articles promising “10 (or 20 or whatever) Ironclad Rules for Success in Ministry,” you will become a nervous wreck and soon start looking for another job. Best to read these things, laugh at most of them, and prayerfully consider the one or two suggestions that seem to have your name on them.