I love the opportunities I have to invest in young pastors. I’m encouraged by what I see in this generation of pastors entering church work. They want to learn and grow from older leaders.
I consistently try to convince them I’m not the guy to listen to, but they keep asking for advice, so I keep sharing. :) Here are 7 pieces of advice I give to young pastors:
Become a wisdom seeker. You’ll be looked to for lots of wisdom and answers. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with wise people. Obviously, you ultimately want to hear from God, but He encouraged us throughout His Word to seek wise counsel. Also, make it a point to always have mentors in your life. (If you need help, read THIS POST.)
Prioritize your life. You’ll be pulled in many directions. Make sure you have a plan for your time and center it around what you want to accomplish and where you want to be in the years to come. Don’t neglect your family for the ministry or destroy your ministry for temporary pleasures of the world. (You might read THIS POST about protecting your family in ministry or THIS POST on balance.)
Learn the secret of contentment—you’ll need it. There’s a draw in ministry towards bigger and better. You’ll be encouraged to count numbers (and I think numbers matter, but not they are not most important.). Most likely, unless your name is Stanley, or Furtick, you won’t have one of the largest or one of the fastest growing churches. Learn to be content with who God has made you to be and what He has called you to do.
Intentionally invest in others. You can’t call yourself a disciple-maker unless you are personally making disciples. I understand the fact that your teaching on Sunday will be building disciples, but the Jesus model involves intentionally investing in a few people at a time. Jesus concentrated most of His energy on 12 guys and even more on three in His inner circle. Shouldn’t we do likewise? Always be intentionally and personally mentoring a few. It will keep you close to people in the trenches of life and help you build more solid leadership in the church.
Keep moving forward through the disappointments of life. You will have plenty of setbacks. Life and people will disappoint you. At times you may fail to understand what God is allowing to happen at the time. Keep the vision of your overall calling to God in mind and push forward, regardless of the obstacles that come your way.
Ground your theology in Jesus. There are plenty of theological methodologies around. Someone will be happy to shape your theology for you. I’m not suggesting you can’t script it if it makes it easier for you to understand, nor am I saying not to grow in knowledge. You should always be growing. I am suggesting you never get beyond the simple child-like, overwhelming awe of who Jesus is and how He loves you. Center your beliefs firmly and completely around the person of Christ. Set Christ as your end goal, desire to be like Him, discipline yourself, then push forward. Invite others to follow likewise. Let the grace, glory and goodness of Jesus shape your life and ministry.
God knows best. As a pastor, there will be plenty of voices in your life. You’ll have plenty of advice from deacons, elders, Sunday school teachers and flower committee members. Appreciate the suggestions of everyone, but on matters of utmost importance, hold out for a word from God.
Of course, this is good advice for all ages (and not just pastors), but the majority of questions I receive are from younger pastors. I’m not sure what that says about us older pastors, but it is been true in my ministry that the younger a pastor is the more willing to heed advice. (Have you seen that to be true?)
What advice do you have for young pastors?