There’s a lot of who I am that is certainly what God has shaped through His presence while using my own personality. And there’s also a tremendous amount of ministry philosophy and practics that were modeled by (IMO) the greatest ministry mentors a pastor could have: my parents.
Don’t get me wrong, as they’ll tell you, they are by no means the model of pastoral perfection (never met the “perfect pastor”), but their ability to stay humble and keep Christ at their center for 43 years is astounding.
Of the plethora of lessons I’ve learned from them, ministry has been a major theme they’ve mentored me in since they stepped into ministry in the mid 80’s.
Here’s one lesson they’ve taught me for every year they’ve been married:
- The recognition of what God is doing is greater than my need to be recognized.
- What people see on Sunday should be the spill-over of what is happening in my life throughout the week.
- Check your zipper before you step onto the platform.
- Ministry is a calling you live and not a job you attend (24/7).
- There is no ministry that is “too below me” to do.
- The Word is priority in your private life; you cannot draw out of a dry well.
- Longevity in your position is both a goal and a challenge.
- Jesus is our priority; the methods are not.
- Pulpits are built upon relationship and not on stages.
- Sermon illustrations that border on the ridiculous stick longer in the memory of the listener.
- A healthy church is a missions church.
- Authenticity isn’t an option.
- If you play a biblical character on stage, make sure your “tunic” is long enough to keep the production PG.
- Finding what brings you rest and recovery is of high priority.
- People will remember who you were more than what you preached.
- Ministry has the potential to be a lonely place; strive to live in community.
- Opening up a mic for people sharing stories at funerals can be a “powder keg.”
- What you expect in others, do yourself.
- Towels are more important than titles (referring to Jesus washing the feet of the disciples).
- You are husband first, dad second, and pastor third (in that order).
- You can never stop being teachable.
- Don’t sing/preach with a cough drop in your mouth in an effort keep your throat from getting dry. #ChokingMoments
- Expect the unexpected. Never say, “I’ve seen/heard it all” as something else will come your way that will take you off guard.
- If you don’t know how to laugh with people, you’re going to be a miserable person.
- The best messages birthed in prayer and illustrated from life experiences.
- Your integrity is relational currency.
- If you’re going to fault too far in anything, fault in generosity.
- Being asked to do a funeral is of the highest privilege.
- Crowns belong at the feet of Jesus and not upon our heads for people to see.
- Always say, “it’s a glorious ministry” because it doesn’t always feel that way.
- Your children’s events are of the greatest importance.
- Adaptability is a necessary skill-set as you will be asked/expected to do things you never were trained to do.
- Unity is of extreme importance as it brings the commanded blessing of God (Psalm 133).
- Nothing easy about pastoring. You will have moments where you will imagine yourself NOT in ministry.
- Close friends in ministry are of extreme importance.
- There’s no such thing as “part-time ministry” even though you are working “part-time” at the church.
- Be the type of pastor who is know for your encouragement instead of your criticism.
- Humility trumps pride. Be humble enough to admit shortcomings and mistakes.
- Comfort zones can constrain what God wants to do. Be willing to be stretched.
- Empowering others is better than doing everything yourself.
- Don’t limit “altars” to the front of the platform. Our response to a message goes beyond the church doors.
- See through people’s eyes before you judge their actions.
- Show the same level of forgiveness that Christ showed you.
To my parents, who are celebrating 43 years together, I say congrats. I love you more than you’ll ever comprehend.
Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 40 years and 9 months…