Ministry Inside.59

If you are a preacher, pastor, or minister in any role, what do you wish you had known when you first began your ministry?

(Please leave a comment today regarding this. I think your reply could be very helpful to some who are just beginning their work.)

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

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19 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.59

  1. Who I am as a minister? Strengths, weaknesses, gifting…but again I would have missed out on the process of self discovery.

  2. It’s so important to connect with the congregation. Visit in the home of every member over the course of your first year. It’s true that “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    • Jeff, very good. There is a window of time early on that used wisely (as you suggest) that can make a positive difference for many, many years.

  3. 1. What I say (or thought I said) is not what everyone hears. I need to be careful with words, and perhaps especially with humor.

    2. Learn about the congregation and its history. Churches are the way they are for a reason.

    3. Love the church as it is, not my ideal of what it ought to be.

    4. God does weird stuff with sermons. I can find no direct correlation between what I think is a good or poor sermon when I preach it and how people respond. My wife has to keep reminding me that it’s not me, it’s God at work.

    • Phillip, I like these four! All four of these are very important. You are right, a person needs to be very careful with words.

      Early on in my ministry, I did some damage one day with attempted humor. I teased someone in a class. My attempt at humor backfired, in part because I did not consider the background of this particular person. Consequently, my words felt humiliating instead of humorous. A lesson learned.

  4. No matter how much I disagree with someone (or someone disagrees with me) we are working toward the same goal(s). Too many bridges have been burned because of idealism (on my part) or because of an unwillingness to simply be the humble brother. I can imagine longer tenure at one church or another had I just been willing to serve through the disagreements.

    • Jon Mark,
      Love what you said! Very true. For someone to disagree does not make him/her the enemy. Nor does it have to always be personal. Could be that the person simply disagrees with my thinking on this or that.

  5. All of the above are great. I can especially relate to Phillip’s first one. It is amazes me how the words that I believe I am speaking and even writing can be heard or read so much differently than I intended them. But I guess the thing that I was least prepared for is how lonely this job can be. Maybe it’s just me, I really hope so, but I just don’t seem to have to many folks that I can let my guard down around or that will let their guard down around me. Often times I feel alone in a crowd.

    • Bill,
      The loneliness is something that many, many in this role can relate to. In fact, it is so common that I think a minister must be very intentional and purposeful about building a network either within his congregation or outside so that he can have necessary friendships. Still, it can be a real challenge.

  6. Not everyone is going to like you and that is okay. You are trying to bring about maturity and a process of growth and development that often takes years to accomplish, but can also take giant leaps forwards in the big moments.

    Josh Ketchum

    • Josh, what you said in your first sentence is huge! I thought, when I first began, that if I was doing my work well that everyone would be pleased. It was a shock when I learned that some didn’t like me and that others wanted me to function in a very different manner.

      Trying to be liked (which Jesus never did) is an way to approach ministry that will cause one to focus more on himself than on the pleasure of God.


  7. In seminary, I was trained to lead a church in the modern world. But I graduated into the postmodern world, where much of what I had learned was outdated.

    • Jim, thanks for this. One of the best practices that a new minister can have is to create good habits of life-long learning. Otherwise, one may find that some/much of what was learned earlier is outdated.

      I also think that in the earliest training it is so important to learn how to think about the Bible, life, and ministry.

  8. In no particular order … (1) To schedule regular, unbreakable, personal, private time with the Lord, your family and just for yourself. (2) To go to the people and not allow your ministry to be determined by those who come to you or who “expect” of you. (3) To learn to clearly say “No” and “Yes.” (4) To spend much more time listening. (5) To be less “prophetic” and more “pastoral” in content and tone in preaching. (6) To live within your means, no matter what. (7) To be very deliberate in cultivating and caring for deep, lasting friendships. (8) To refuse to allow the doing of ministry to crowd out your praying of ministry. (9) To not allow the urgencies of others to become your emergencies. (10) To expect no better treatment for yourself than our Lord received.

    Phillip’s Camp’s comment is golden and you’re so right, Josh Ketchum’s statement “Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay” is indeed “huge.”

    • Two more, then I’ll actually do # 4. (11) If you try “do it all,” that will become what’s expected of you. (12) Rather than acting like you’re the Messiah, point people to him.

    • David, you’ve made some very good comments. In particular, I am glad you mentioned the importance of listening as well as the importance of being intentional about time. Very good. Thanks.

  9. 1. Ministry is first and foremost, a calling, not a job.
    2. You don’t have to share everything you know with everyone.
    3. Interruptions are some of the best ministry.
    4. Don’t overtalk–silence is ministry.

  10. Grady, you’ve listed four very important principles of ministry. I really like this and wish I could hear you comment on each one.