I really wasn’t a pastor all that long, only ten years, but before A.L.S. happened I believed I would be pastoring until normal retirement age. However, Christian ministry in some form or another is all I have ever done or wanted to do, so I have studied and thought about it for a very long time (with plenty of scars to prove it). Now medically retired , and coming to terms with my mortality, I share the hubris of many old geezers who believe that their hard-won wisdom should be passed on to whippersnappers church, grab a few grains of salt and indulge me for a few moments!
1. It’s not about you (no matter what the congregation thinks!); it’s all about Jesus. Don’t be satisfied with knowing that … Let it seep into you until it merges with your DNA.
2. Seek to dream Jesus’ dream for the congregation, and your (pl.) corner of the world.
3. Disciple your leaders. Developing leaders like Jesus did is the highest leverage thing you can do
4. Share Jesus’ vision with your leaders as it is revealed to you. Chew on it together, and thrash it out; the goal is not to bring them to your point of view, but to shape it and own it together.
5. A meeting filled with discussions about the nature of the church and it’s mission rarely wastes time.
6. Learn when to sit back and allow things to sink or swim, and when to herd the process.
7. Statistically speaking, solo efforts to push rocks uphill results in flattened pastors. If no one sees the need to push along with you something isn’t right.
8. Never take responsibility for keeping the church open and operating.
9. You’re never too important to not bother with children and youth (I think the Master had a couple of things to say about that).
10. You are no longer in cemetery, er I mean seminary, writing sermons to impress professors and fellow students. Now you preach to people who don’t have an extensive theological vocabulary. Learn how to explain theological terms without using them; keep the “cookies” on the lower shelf. Otherwise, you are like the priest in the old days who only spoke Latin in worship.
11. You are not so essential to God’s Kingdom that you have been issued an exemption from observing Sabbath rest. Ministry is just like farming, there is always something that needs to get done. God commanded Sabbath rest to farmers and livestock growers, right? Chew on that for a while.
12. Pssst. Worship is supposed to be a joyful celebration.
13. Learn how to forgive. Do it often.