I recently finished up ten years in pastoral ministry and I keep wishing I had a time machine. Not only would I tell the younger pastoral version of myself to emphasize faithfulness and to pray more, but I have a few more that are on my mind (scrawled on a piece of paper that as sitting in my car—which has since been lost in the roughly six months it has taken me to restart this series).
Any time you enter into a ministry job (I think this might generalize to other jobs, but I’m not sure) there is an (often) unstated expectation that you’ll start changing things around. “Where are we headed?” becomes a pretty normal question. Different people have different expectations for their church, and they want to know what you are going to do, and how you are going to do it. That’s all fine and good—I might be the same if the roles were reversed—but these questions put a unique pressure on ministry leaders to get something done and to get it done quickly.
There are few things as significant to a Christian as prayer, and there are few things that are so easy for a young pastor to neglect as prayer. Prayer doesn’t feel like it “does” anything. People aren’t known for prayer—it isn’t sexy and it doesn’t bring accolades.
As I started this little blog series, I wanted to focus on things that I’ve learned after about 10 years of pastoral ministry. I do this for me because it helps me to figure out how I have changed (and likely how I need to keep changing). The first post was about how faithful ministry is better than fast ministry. How does ministry remain faithful, though? Through prayer.
I graduated from Dallas Seminary a little over ten years ago. At that time I was 25 and we were expecting our first child. I knew so much.
August 1st will be the ten-year anniversary of me starting pastoral ministry (in a paid capacity) and will also be the one-year anniversary of my time at Genesis. (I guess I like to start things August 1—perhaps to coincide with the school year.)
I’m still a pastoral ministry spring chicken—at least that’s how I feel. At the same time, I often think about the ways in which my perspective on ministry has changed over a decade. What would I do differently if I could start over? What would I do more of, and perhaps do it with more intensity?
One topic comes to mind almost right away: when it comes to pastoring, faithful is better than fast.
This week’s podcast episode was a fun one to record. I got to talk a bit about a pastor assessment process I am going through and Evan got to talk about an episode of the rebooted Twilight Zone he watched. You can check out the episode below:
In between those two discussions was a brief chat about a book that I had just finished up. The book is called Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. It’s written by Stephanie Land and I only got to speak about it briefly in the podcast, so I wanted to give a few thoughts on the book now that I have a little more time to articulate myself.
On Monday, I wrote about a passage in Ephesians that I often find misused. I don’t find it ruin-your-church-worthy, but I do think it is used in such a way that is inconsistent with what I understand it to be saying and with what I understand about church life. Today, I wanted to expand on a leadership saying that those in the church often import without discernment.
(As a disclaimer: I like leadership books and I like leadership talks and I think that they can help church leaders make better decisions. I think it is all part of God’s general revelation into how the world works and how people works, but they aren’t canon and they never should be. )
If you know me, then you know I generally have a suspicious take on hip and trendy pastor phrases. It’s just one of my quirky things. I remembering one of those motivational posters from school when I was a kid that said, “What is right is now always what is popular. What is popular is not always what is right.” I’m not saying that hip and trendy phrases are wrong, I’m just saying that *I* tend to meet them with suspicion. It’s about me, not the phrase.
One of those passages/statements is from what I think is a true idea, but perhaps a goofy application of said idea. What I’ll do is show the idea, show what I like, show where I’m a little critical, and then leave with a thought or two moving forward.