This week an old friend of mine is leaving a position he has held several years as an associate pastor to become a “preaching pastor” or “senior minister” or whatever it is you call what we do for a living.
While he is doing this he is working on a project for his Doctor of Ministry program. He decided that his thesis would be about “The first 100 days of ministry.” He asked me for my thoughts and resource ideas for his project. His question has had me thinking for two days about him and his ministry. I have been thinking about the advice I have been given through the years. I have been thinking about my ministry experiences. With that in mind, I decided to write a few blog posts about pastors and helpfully you will find this helpful even if you are not a pastor.
My advice for new pastors (and their first 100 days)
1. It will be an incredible and unbelievable adventure. Ministry is unlike any other job simply because you will get to see people at their very best … and at their very worst. In ministry you get to hear stories that make you cry all the time. Sometimes they are tears of job and sometimes they are tears of hurt. Get used to both.
2. Be careful of the people who are the happiest to see you. They probably have an agenda and will be the first to leave. This has been true for me without exception.
3. Anyone who talks bad about their last pastor will eventually talk bad about you. This is true of any place you work. People who talk bad about others will eventually set their sights on you.
4. Those who have been carrying the load the longest will want to drop it on you. In every Church I have come to serve there have been a group of people who were serving selflessly for years. I thought I would have their support and I would be able to launch new ministries without worrying about their area of service. That has rarely been the case. Many who have served for a long time are tired and ready to give the new guy their load – whether he wants it or not.
5. Love your family and take time off. And do not feel guilty about it!! People expect their pastor to be at the office, hospital, funeral home or on call for every one of their times of crisis. In the early years I tried to make everyone happy and be at their beck and call 24/7. Now I just tell people I am busy. My family is my greatest ministry and I need to schedule time for them. Also, if I am worn out and tired all the time from working then I will not be much good to anyone.
6. Pray. I know this goes without saying. But when you start a new ministry you are will be busy, busy, busy. There is a natural tendency to want to fix everything wrong with the Church yourself. Remember – it is the Lord’s body and he is in control.
7. Learn your environment. Every city is different. Every Church is different. Every people group is different. There may be a reason that “we have always done it that way.” Then again the past may just be an obstacle to the future. Stop, Look and Listen closely.
8. Most people are well-intentioned. I have to remind myself of this everyday. When people suggest puppet ministries and bike blessings and bake sales and everything else, the really only want the best for the Church. The problem only comes when you say yes to everything or when you say no to everything. Love the people and try to direct their energies in the most productive ways.
I am sure I will think of more to tell him. Maybe you can help me add to my list from your experience. What advice would you give a guy just beginning a new ministry.