100 things I tell young pastors (the final 20)

81. Just as no one knows you better than your spouse, your co-workers on the church staff will see you as no one else does. Make sure they respect you as a person of integrity and compassion who keeps his word, has a sincere heart for God, and treasures each of them.

82. Watch for certain scriptures–a verse here, a verse there–that impress themselves upon you in a special way. This is a work of the Holy  Spirit, a personal gift even. He is inviting you to study this area more, to seek His insights and receive His teaching.

83. Humility. Do not hesitate to apologize. If you made a mistake and everyone knows it, to stonewall and refuse to admit it will end up enraging a few and disappointing everyone else. By humbling yourself and asking for forgiveness, you endear yourself to everyone who matters.  (I’ve known of pastors who gained so much love by publicly apologizing, they started looking for some other dumb mistake to make just so they could apologize.)

84. When you require the approval of a committee, if the chairperson tells you, “Oh, just go ahead and do that, pastor,” don’t do it.  Instead, you should respond, “Thank you, my friend. But I’d really like the entire committee’s input on this.” Never allow the chair to act as if he/she is the committee. (Just so subtly are church tyrants created.)

85. Always err on the side of conservativism in finances and of grace in relationships.

86. You should see yourself as a servant and nothing more. (See II Corinthians 4:5)  Granted that in Christ, you are much more. However, we’re speaking of “how you see yourself here.” Be a servant. Serve your spouse, serve your staff, serve the congregation.  (The parable of Luke 17:7-10 addresses your ego’s need for recognition and appreciation. That parable, found nowhere else in Scripture, may be one of the most important teachings anywhere for God’s workers.)

87. Learn from everyone you meet.  Work at asking key questions to draw them out, and then listen to their responses. Questions such as: “So, Bob, what did you do on your job today.”  “What was the most interesting thing that happened to you today?” “How did you rise to become president of the American Bankers’ Association?” (Yes, I was able to ask that of one of my deacons.  His answer was unforgettable.)

88. Never forget the adage, “No one should ever preach on hell without tears in his eyes.”  Only the compassionate is entitled to teach the stark truths about hell.  To speak of such a “difficult doctrine” (see John 6:60) without your heart breaking fails your people and reveals something unpleasant about yourself.

89.Sleep. No one unable to turn off the constant demands and relentless responsibilities of ministry will be able to sleep at night or will last long as a pastor.  Ministers live in a world of unfinished tasks; get used to it.

90.  Have a notepad on your bedside table. When tasks and burdens will not leave you alone, write down reminders for the next day and go back to sleep. You’d be amazed how jotting these down settles the mind.

91. Beware of spending your days locked in your study, absorbed in your books or computer.  Get out of the office and drink coffee with your office staff. Visit your people in the hospitals or the homebound. Check on the saints in the assisted living facilities.

92. Prayer-walk your neighborhood and the blocks around your church from time to time.  (Colleagues sometimes remind me that we used to hold staff meetings while walking around the block.  You can do this with a small staff.)

93. Knock on the doors of all the homes around your church,  a block in each direction. Introduce yourself and say, “I’m just meeting all our neighbors to ask one question: Is our church being a good neighbor to you?”  See where the Lord leads.

94.. Comfort the afflicted and (sometimes, as God leads) afflict the comfortable.

95. Guard against even the appearance of anything out-of-line with the opposite sex.  If you find yourself being attracted to some person other than your spouse, pick up the phone and ask a mentor to meet you.  Tell them what’s going on.  A good mentor will be unshockable–chances are he has been exactly where you find yourself!–and can talk straight to you.

96. Don’t sell your senior adults short. It’s not that they are opposed to change.  They just don’t like abrupt change.  Seniors are not averse to new things. No one drives a 1948 Packard to your church. Your seniors own widescreen TVs and computers. Some may prefer only hymns written before 1912, but most appreciate some of the great worship songs being produced these days. And they would like something more than just the piano and organ. They love violins, guitars, keyboards. Just don’t dump it all on them at once. Introduce it slowly, sweetly, carefully.

97.  Help your people learn what it means to live by faith.  The Lord does not hesitate to ask us to go when we do not know the destination, to build when we do not have the resources, and to give when we have only two mites.  Show the flock how to do it yourself, pastor.  Then (and only then) may you teach the principles.

98. Remember the delicate balance the Lord has put in His churches: Just enough stubborn head-strong people to keep you humble and just enough sweet godly saints to keep you from quitting.  God will use both groups in your life.

99. Have a pleasurable hobby, one you do with some regularity to help keep your balance in life. But do not let it grow out of proportion and begin to assume too much time, energy, or money.

100. Start your own list of “Things God is teaching me in ministry.”  Or even, “Lessons I have learned the hard way and have the scars to prove it.”  Or this one: “Areas in which the Lord is still working on me.”

If as many as six or eight of these have your name on them and seem to have been planted here just for you, consider that a gift from the Father.  

2 thoughts on “100 things I tell young pastors (the final 20)

  1. great article from you Joe, can I have more? I am ever ready to learn practical as well illustrated in this great piece. Thanks

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