Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Three Mistakes a Beginning Pastor is Certain to Make

1.  Your sermons will be too massive because you’ll attempt to proclaim everything you’ve ever learned on the subject.  Since you have been studying for the message all week, you dare not leave out any of the stuff you have learned.  So you will overstuff it.  Some commentators had some great insights on the passage, so you use it all.  The young pastor typically uses too much material and cites far too many texts.

In time, he will learn to streamline his sermon, to pick a single theme and stick with it, and will learn that great ideas or illustrations don’t always fit the message.

Eventually, if he stays with it and grows as a preacher, his people will comment (on their way out the door), “What I like about your preaching is that it is so simple and easy to understand.  Even my 12 years old understands.”

You’re doing good when you hear that.

2.  You will learn about church government (and who is really calling the shots) the hard way.  You’ve just arrived, preached a few sermons, are excited about this new opportunity, so you – the young pastor – think of a good idea for a new program and start telling people about it.  Only later do you find out the chairman (of the board) is upset that you sprang that on him, not informing him in advance what this was all about and treating him like an ordinary church member.  He’s mad and ready to run you off because you didn’t get “his” permission first.

Welcome to the modern church, young pastor. 

3.  You will find out – too late – that half the church (all 65 of them) are blood-kin, and the other half are their in-laws.  There is no safe church member to confide in.  Anything you (the young pastor) says will be reported to others and come back to you from a dozen sources.

Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

Getting this kind of wisdom is painful, but it is a necessary step to your maturity.  There are no shortcuts.  You have to walk this lonesome valley by yourself.

So don’t be too hard on yourself when you make any of these mistakes.  Don’t beat yourself up and don’t get bitter.  Just learn from it.

You must pace yourself.  You will be learning how to pastor God’s people (and a bunch of tares mixed in) all your life.  The older, more mature pastor up the highway – probably in his 40s – has been out of seminary longer than you and feels like he is still learning.

If you are married, you will have to find a balance between sharing the details of your work (including its frustrations and your enemies) with your wife and protecting her from such minutia which can overwhelm her.  She can be a great asset to you – a dependable advisor, strong supporter, and beneficial helper.  As with all other aspects of ministry, that will not happen overnight, but if you will find a balance between informing her and protecting her, the day will come when you will be amazed at the wisdom coming from this woman.

Have fun, young pastor.  It’s a good life.  If you will stay close to the Lord, keep learning, stay humble, and let others help you… you will be blessed and have a full life with no regrets.

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