10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

With so much being posted on social media these days, even those in ministry have available to them a plethora of helps, lists, and general advice from experienced clergy folk.

Just this morning I saw a post forwarded on Facebook by a pastor friend, one that gave “10 Reasons Ministry Isn’t for Wimps.” On other occasions this same friend, Alan Rogers, has shared articles dealing with everything from sermon tips to how to destroy one’s ministry.

Much of what is shared on Facebook and Twitter are written by the “pro’s” in ministry research like Thom S. Rainer, or long-time veterans of ministry like Joe McKeever. What rarely gets shared are articles and posts written by ordinary guys like me – probably because we don’t publish that many, for one thing.

But I think it is about time we start seeing some helpful hints from old-school, bi-vocational, small-church, in-the-trenches pastors with no access to research teams, only personal experience and some common sense.

So, in order to kick things off, here are…

10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

  1. Get a biblical education. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if the school is only a rag-tag, non-accredited hole in the ground, get an education from some place that will teach you how to study the Bible by making you study the Bible. Those who call a seminary a “cemetery” are nothing more than illiterate bigots who should be avoided – unless you want to show them how to get saved.
  2. Listen to your wife. I know, sometimes wives have actually been the reason men have left the ministry. However, a good, godly wife will offer you insight that no one else can. She really does have an intuition that sees what our eyes can’t. She is also going to be the only one in the church you can trust 100%
  3. Don’t think every sermon needs to be alliterated. Guys, not every sermon is best delivered with four points, all alliterated with a certain letter or phonetic sound. Sometimes the best way to outline your sermon is just go with the way the Scripture leads.
  4. Be a sheepdog. Do whatever it takes to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to protect not only those in your church, but your own family. Be prepared to fight – literally – for those you love. Always be on the lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing, especially sexual predators. Believe me, I wish I’d prepared better.
  5. Draw your lines in the sand early on – the earlier the better. Don’t wait for church trouble to draw your lines in the sand. Don’t wait until you are in a struggle with disagreeing leadership before you say, “This is the way it’s going to be.” Start early by saying that…be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
  6. Learn to preach without notes. There’s going to come a time when you need to preach and you won’t have time to prepare an outline. There is going to come a time when you are asked to preach a funeral, or a revival service, and all you will have is your Bible. Read it…learn it…know it…and be able to preach from it without a man-made crutch.
  7. Check your pride. The day you go up to the pulpit all cocky, that’s the day you will be an utter failure. Ascend to the “sacred desk” with your knees shaking under the weight of the seriousness of what you’re doing and you will come down humble, but confident God’s Word will not return void. As long as you are humble and dependent on God, that’s when even the most basic of sermons can shake the foundations of hell itself.
  8. Don’t grow too dependent on technology. Men, there may come a day when we don’t have the internet, iPads, microphones, and projection screens. At any moment you could lose one or all of those things, so learn to prepare and to preach like the great warriors of the past – because history has a tendency to repeat itself.
  9. Love your family more than your ministry. You’ve probably heard it said before, but it’s true; your family is your first and most important ministry, not the congregation you serve. Don’t lose your wife or kids for the sake of any church.
  10. Never stop studying and learning. Even if you go to Bible school and seminary, never think you’ve learned enough. Always be learning, reading, researching, and studying. If George Washington Carver could squeeze all he did out of the lowly peanut (to the glory of God), imagine how much you will be able to find if you keep digging deeper into the Holy Writ!

I could share some more words of wisdom with you all, but this is all my wife will allow for this evening – I’m listening to her, and she said I need to go to bed.

So, there you have it. Do you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share? Why not write them in the comment section below? I’m sure we all could benefit from our collective experiences.


Filed under ministry, Preaching

24 responses to “10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

  1. Reblogged this on thotsfromgeorge and commented:
    Excellent article for Christ followers.

  2. Reblogged and posted to fb.
    Thanks again for great thoughts from experience.

  3. Donald Norris

    Excellent, Anthony. I still think that some of the old-mainline, denominational seminaries are in fact cemeteries. From experience, I’ve learned that your second point should be your first and your ninth point should be second.

    • I won’t argue your point about some of the main-line seminaries. Shoot, there’s a couple of colleges in our denomination I wouldn’t send my kids to. But in general, seminaries are not an automatic bad thing, as I’m sure you understand. I’ll have go back and look at the other points 😉

    • Yes, ninth should be second…but I wrote them in no particular order, only as they came to mind.

  4. This is helpful for a young buck like me.

  5. Good stuff!
    My first week in bible College a professor told us that if we were from a small church we would now be expected to preach pray sing or die upon visiting back home…He was correct.

  6. hello Anthony,
    I think the first priority in Christian ministry is that you preach ‘truth’. The second, be very selective about what other materials you read besides the Bible that is religious in nature, and limit the amount that you read of this type of literature. Third try to avoid the ‘fads’, such as ‘yoga classes’, purpose driven anything…, psychology classes, ‘the shack’, etc., as part of your ‘Christian ministry’ to believers. Fourth, remove yourself from the ‘Big Church’ bandwagon thinking of today’s ministers. Fifth, accept that as the preacher of the Word you will not have the ‘last word’ about everything. Sixth, allow the Holy Spirit to minister in your church, try not to control everything in the service. Seventh, realize that your ministry is to the ‘saints’ and not the ‘unsaved’ as a pastor. Design your service accordingly.

    These are some things that come to my mind in the encouragement to young pastors joining a church.

    • I agree with you totally! But as you know, what I wrote was not in any particular order, or order of importance, so they could’ve been switched around a little. Also what I wrote was not to be considered as all encompassing, just something that was off the top of my head and give somebody 10 points to think about. But your suggestions we’re definitely spot on. Thanks for the comment!

    • Thank you sir! As a matter of fact, I’m considering developing it into a book, possibly. I’ve read so many books on ministry by brilliant, scholarly men, but very little from the lowly, real-world, bi-vocational, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. We all can’t be John Piper, Adrian Rogers, or Alistair Begg, you know? Lord knows most of us will never be as prolific as Spurgeon or John MacArthur. For that matter, I’ve never read on book on ministry and pastoring that dealt with a church member being a sex offender (especially the potential heartache and consequences). What do you think?

  7. Don’t view people who are important in the world as being important in the church. The humble and lowly believers may be the ones who are closest to the Lord.

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