41 Things Ministers Ought to Know (Part 1 of 4)

keyWhat do Christian ministers need to know?  Specifically, I am speaking of people who might be on the staff of a church participating in some form of Christian ministry.  Regardless of your role, I believe these principles are important to know about ministry in general. 


A form of this list originally appeared here almost three years ago.  However, I have since updated, reworked, and expanded it.  The following list will be posted in four parts.  


1.  Learn
from other people
.  Look out for those who have continued to grow, develop and learn.  Be a lifelong learner.  Read.  Ask others questions.  When you are with other people, look for the opportunity to ask good questions.  Resist the temptation to spend the bulk of your conversations talking on and on about your church.  


2.  Resist the temptation to be a "big name."  Yes, there will be some people others will clamor to hear speak.  Some people will be visible and have national reputations.  Some will speak at seminars and various other gatherings throughout the country.  If that happens to you, then allow yourself to be used by God.  However, this will not be true of most of us.  Most of us will not be well known.  Why not pursue significance instead of self-importance.  When your life is in the will of God, your ministry will be significant.  What you do will matter, regardless of whether or not you are noticed and affirmed by others. 


3.  Ministry is all about relationships.  If you do not treat people right, it really does not matter what else you do.  It is amazing how some ministers will go to seminary, prepare themselves academically, and yet ignore some of the most basic realities about people.  Saying "hello" to people, showing an interest in their lives, and simply paying attention to others are all very important.


4.  Someone else can teach you something.  That "someone" may be a person you may or may not admire.  Be willing to learn from people with whom you disagree.  Be attentive to what God might teach you through others in your church.  An older woman?  A teenager?  A young father?  You never know.  Pay attention.  


5.  Be careful about what you say.  Some people are in the habit of ending conversations by saying, "I’ll call you" or "Let’s go to lunch."  I’m not sure that some of these people really intend to call or e-mail the other with a request for lunch next week.   Yet, this is confusing to others.  If you say, "I will call you," be sure to call.  If you say "Let’s go to lunch sometime," be sure to get back with that person to schedule lunch.  This is important if you want people to take your words seriously.


6.  Follow through.  Some people seem to always be starting something but then they lose interest and allow it to die.  Or, we say that we will complete a task and it never gets done.  It is important to follow through.  


7.  Be very careful about your ego.  Can it ever get in the way!  Pride can do so much harm in a church.  The truth?  You may experience times when others get the credit for your idea.  You may be in a situation in which a very lazy person is affirmed by others he manipulates while someone else who works much harder goes unnoticed.  If you are not careful, pride and resentment can slowly eat away at your heart. 


8.  Pay attention to the invisible people.  There are quiet, unassuming people in your church who say little and are not front and center.  Yet, these salt-of-the-earth people are so important.  These low maintenance, solid people often get ignored in churches while the high maintenance people may use up much of the oxygen in the room and get most of our attention.      


9.  Find someone on this planet in whom you can confide.  Life, ministry, and the day-to-day routine can be very lonely.  Having such a friend may help prevent a train wreck in your life.  Besides that, such a person can also serve to add some much needed perspective to your thinking and feelings.


10.  Get healthy!  One of the best things you can do in a church is model what a healthy (not perfect) human being looks like.  Go to a
counselor. Talk to a trusted friend.  Do whatever it takes to deal with
old wounds and inadequacies.  Consider your track record with relationships.  What needs to be addressed?


More later…


What else would you add to this list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “41 Things Ministers Ought to Know (Part 1 of 4)

  1. I just know I’m going to agree wholeheartedly with each one of these 41 things! I already do with the first 10! I’m sure my suggestions are in the rest of your list or maybe I’m stating the same thing in a different way.  Guard your heart; Refuse to take offense; Pray, pray, pray; Keep confidences; Model Christ so you can say with Paul – follow me as I follow Christ; Be in the Word; Love people; Listen well; Laugh – don’t take yourself so seriously; Forgive freely – holding no grudges;Not that I’ve achieved all those, but the Lord helping me, we’re working on me!

  2. Jim,
    You are right on about relationships.  Some of the most well prepared academically are incompetent with people.

  3. Thanks very much Karin, SG, Allan, and Matthew.Chris– Thanks for the kind words.  I hope you will comment again. Thanks very much Gallagher

  4. Jim, you are a teacher of teachers.  Thank you for your wisdom.  It is a gift from the Holy Spirit that blesses many.  I’m hitting the print button right now! :)MT

  5. Matt–I would love to see you!  Been a long time.  I want to hear about your studies. Thanks for your affirming, encouraging words.

  6. Matt–I would love to see you!  Been a long time.  I want to hear about your studies. Thanks for your affirming, encouraging words.