I realize I haven’t posted in ages; I’ve been busying being a pastor, student, husband, father, and a thousand other things. I’ve just passed 2 1/2 years as a pastor, and my seminary graduation date is now in sight (May 18th, 2019). I’ve learned a lot during this period of my life; I’ve made a lot of mistakes as well, but, I’ve also received innumerable blessings. I hope I’ve gotten more right than wrong.
When I became a pastor, having spent most of my life in “regular” jobs, I expected a manual to go along with the position. You know, something that showed me the policies and procedures of managing a church, but my new church didn’t have one. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “You’re a pastor, your manual is the Bible!” Well, you’re correct, but the Bible doesn’t give me advice on what to do when the toilet backs up, the sound system dies mid-service, or the in’s and out’s of church politics (there’s way more “out’s” than “in’s” by the way).
Of course, now that I’ve spent this time in the trenches… er… I mean, pulpit, I know why such a manual can’t exist. The reason is simple, and yet, profound; every ministry setting is completely and utterly unique. Each church exists with its own people, tradition, practices, history, and dynamics. A church manual created at your church wouldn’t address the challenges at my church. And while I may now possess this understanding, I couldn’t rest there, it’s been nagging at me for years that I needed to write a book to help out new enthusiastic pastors. Unfortunately, this book would only have a single page, so I’m not likely to find a publisher, so let’s just call this a manual.
Here is the first edition of my pastor manual in its entirety:
To you, the newbie pastor on fire for God and ready to part the Red Sea…
I mean it, slow down.
Really, slow DOWN. Right now, slow down…
You know what, you’re not going to listen to that, so just…
Have you stopped yet? No, well do it, stop.
Okay, now that you’ve stopped, or burnt yourself out, or gotten yourself fired or in hot water, are you ready to be a better pastor now?
Good, now you may proceed VERY slowly.
First, slowly, carefully, diligently, gently, observe what is happening at this church, learn about the people, their traditions, their history and respect it all, even when what they are doing looks absolutely blasphemous to you.
Have you identified what is going on?
Good, now reflect on all of it theologically.
No, you’re not, go reflect on it more.
No, you’re not anywhere near finished yet, you haven’t even prayed!
Now, go to God in prayer and supplication and beg him to change YOU, not “your” people. Beg him to give you gentleness and patience, plead for this as Sarah pled for a child to fill her barren womb.
Now, go do your pastor-thing as God leads you in caring for HIS people…
(p.s. go slower.)
There you have it you new pastors who are busy Googling, “I’M A NEW PASTOR, HELP ME!!!”
Before I go, I’d just like to apologize to all those pastors who gave me this advice when I was the new pastor. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to your wise words.
Lord, may those who find this manual listen and learn in ways that I did not.