Ten lessons I learned as a pastor

Posted: November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I got hired at Trader Joe’s and I was excited and scared at the same time. I have grown used to being a pastor and in the captain’s chair and now I am entering the world of retail and not being in leadership. As I look back over my time as pastor of VX I realize that God taught me some really good lessons in a short period of time. So here are the ten lessons I have learned as a pastor:

1. Your to do list will never be finished

Until Jesus returns or we fall asleep there will always be uncompleted tasks. It sounds demotivating but it is actually the best way to put things in perspective and not drive yourself to the crazy house or an early grave.

2. This is not the profession for a control freak

To be a pastor means that you are not in control. You are working in the area of relationships and relationships are never something you can control. You cannot control your relationship with others. You cannot control the relationships of others. You are not in control. The only one you can control is yourself. That can be a very stressful thing or a very restful thing. You decide.

3. Be Yourself

After being exposed to so many different personalities in ministry I have concluded that true success from God is not about being a certain type of personality or operating in a certain gift or skill. It is about being yourself in relationship with God. There have been times when I have stood up to preach and I was so prepared and ready to blow people’s minds and it all fell flat. There were other times where I was in pain so much that I had to be authentic and that’s when the Holy Spirit got a chance to flow through me-the real me.

4. Treat people like gold even if you feel like rusty steel

At the end of the day the people that you serve are gold. It is not their gifts, service, or money that is gold. It is them. When they cannot give you anything they are still gold in God’s eyes. When they make you feel like rusty steel with complaints and criticism the only thing to overcome that feeling is to treat them like gold. By doing that you place your humanity and theirs on the same level.

5. Things are not as bad as they seem

Somebody once said “Never write your resignation on Monday morning”. Things are not as bad as they seem. For every complaint about your preaching there is someone else who is blessed beyond comprehension. For every person who is sitting on the sidelines there are others who are out on the field serving with all their heart. It is never as bad as it seems.

6. Jesus gave us boundaries for a reason

We all have boundaries. We all have limits. They are there not only to protect us but to keep us from getting distracted from the truth of who God is. We have limits but God is limitless. When we forget this then we are on a sure road to falling into sin especially the sin of pride. You know what comes after pride don’t you?

7. Lean into discomfort

Whenever I would get really down about our church not having enough money, a leader falling, a church member complaining, a really poor worship service-you fill in the blank-the Lord would gently ask me the question “What did you expect?”. The great men and women of God lived lives filled with pain and discomfort. It is something that helped them grow and eventually blessed others. The pastoral life is not for pansies. It is made for discomfort. Lean into it!

8. Take care of it now!

This is related to the previous lesson of leaning into discomfort. There are some things that you can postpone and there are others that you cannot postpone. When it comes to dealing with people problems I have learned that it is better to take care of it now or it will bite you in the butt later. Bitterness and resentment build up over time. Misunderstandings get wildly out of control. It is better to take care of it as soon as you can rather than avoid it.

9. How to deal with change

Pastoring in the 21st century is full and ripe with change. What do you do with it? Let it steamroll you flat. Try to avoid it like the plague. One of the things that I  learned during our pastoral sabbatical retreat is that every change requires you to grieve. It requires you to let go of the past in order to take hold of the future. Whether that’s an old member who has left the church or something as simple as redoing the order of service. We must grieve it. Maybe not in the form of big boo hoo tears but we must go through a process of adjusting to the new reality

And the last one…drumroll please…. Actually we will save that for next week. So stay tuned (subscribe to the blog and you will get updates in your email) and I will give you the the tenth thing I learned as a pastor. The most important thing that I have learned in my ministry journey….

  1. I’m about to go through a similar change. After 25 years of pastoring, I’m finally getting the college teaching job that I was called to almost 30 years ago (the call that took me to Fuller in the early 90s). Looks like you’ve learned some good lessons.

    • mayotron says:

      Hey Richard! It seems like pastoring is not only about teaching others but also learning alot yourself. Wouldn’t you agree?

  2. I know I’ve learned a lot. I don’t think I’ve learned enough yet though.

  3. […] week I posted the first nine of the ten lessons I learned as a pastor. I left off at the tenth just to keep you salivating for more. Well here it is. Drumroll please! […]

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