I have to be honest, when I was writing this post with some advice for new pastors I was tempted to follow the crowd and come up with some fancy title like “three things I wish I knew when I started my ministry”. The problem is that I knew this advice several years before I started serving at the church. Then, after praying, I kept the fancy title on hold for another day.
What I am sharing today is not what I wanted someone to tell me when I started my pastoral ministry. I am bringing three simple things I wish I paid more attention to in my first years in a leadership position at the church. Three things that can make your ministry less painful than mine. In other words:
3 pieces of advice for new pastors.
(from my own experience)
1) Develop your team as if your life depends on it.
I have been part of several teams in ministry. I have seen examples of how teams can either save or destroy your ministry. One of the phrases I like to repeat over and over is this: “Only a healthy team can develop a healthy church”
There’s nothing new in that statement. Is it? If you have read any book about church planting or leadership, then you are familiarized with the idea of teamwork. That is how God wants ministry to be done!
If you are like I used to be 10 years ago, you might be thinking: okay, I need to develop a team in order to be able to do my ministry. We tend to think of our teams as a source of human resources. Let me tell you something, we should develop our teams as if our lives will depend on them. We typically look for a person that will solve a problem for us. We look for someone to take care of the children’s ministry. We think: “our church needs a worship leader” or “we need to find someone who …”. When we do that, we are offering our ministry to the idol of pragmatism.When we build our teams based on what we need, we are falling into the clutches of pragmatism. Click To Tweet
Our teams would be healthier if we started asking better questions. Think of your team as those who will save your life if necessary. Make your team meetings the safest place in the world and live out the purest expression of Christian Fellowship you can imagine. If you do so, I’m sure your ministry will have an eternal impact.
2) Model grace.
Almost every pastor I know preaches about God’s grace. But, not all of them really understand it’s meaning. In fact, those who understand God’s grace are usually those who have experienced it and, even more, have depended on it. We all are saved by grace, but modeling God’s grace is completely different.
I remember a teammate in Mexico who told me: “you are probably the most tangible example of God’s grace to those around you”. Ever since, I have prayed to be a good example of His Grace but I found myself being anything but that.
And last but not least, remember that in your ministry there’s room for Grace too. Probably the biggest mistake I made in ministry happened because I didn’t realize that Grace was available and waiting for me.You are probably the most tangible example of God's grace to those around you Click To Tweet
3) Learn more than you teach.
Okay guys, this comes from the bottom of my heart. When you finish your theological education you feel you’re ready to do ministry. That’s true! In some ways, you are prepared for ministry. I don’t mean to offend you, but it is probably going to take you a couple years to realize that you are less prepared than you thought (in my case it took me five years).
After experiencing grace and making many bad decisions in ministry, now I can tell you that I am more prepared to serve the church. But I also know that I have much more to learn than to teach in the pastoral ministry.
Do you want it in one word? Just be “teachable”. Not only by your seminary professors, but also by ordinary people. Remember what Paul says to the Corinthians (1 Co 1:26-29). Honestly, the worst mistake I made after seminary was thinking I had all the answers.
I pray you won’t make the same mistake I did, but if you do, just repent and disparately run to the infinite grace that only Jesus can bring to your heart.
What are you struggling with? What advice for new pastors was important for you while starting your ministry? We all have a story to tell.