(Wise counsel from several retired ministers)
Pastoral experiences over the decades offer us wealth of insights to share with younger ministers- especially those just starting their ministerial careers. Many of these revelations have come from the School of Hard Knocks. But each and every one of them is valuable.
One of the most important matter I would bring up would be our Lord’s command for all of us to “make disciples.” Perhaps few if any deacons or elders would ask about this concern in a monthly meeting—but it needs to be central in our job description. In fact, we are to make disciples-who themselves-make disciples. Thus multiplication is a vital part of our ministry process.
Closely related to that insight are the words of a retired pastor/hospital chaplain with many years in both ministries, Paul Mullen, from Winston-Salem, NC. He reminds young ministers that “The quality of a minister’s caring relationships is most important over the long haul. Many younger ministers tend to think that preaching, teaching, and leadership skills are most important. Each of these are essential, but none of them are as vital as letting members know that they are deeply loved and cared for. When ministers take considerable initiative to be present with people at the point of their need, representing the compassionate presence of Christ, they build their ministry on a solid, lasting foundation.”
Another long time pastor, Donald Farrow, also of Winston-Salem, shared these suggestions to young ministers starting out:
- Be prepared for disappointment.
- Be prepared to re-examine your call to ministry.
- Be prepared to spend more time in prayer.
- Be prepared to deal with your frustration and anger.
- Be prepared to spend time researching the subject of how systems work; your church itself is a system.
- Give your family high priority.
- Learn how to establish priorities.
Finally, I would encourage young ministers to intentionally search out godly mentors, pick their brains, and listen to their wise counsel. One doesn’t need to make one’s own mistakes. As Proverbs 13:20 reminds us, “He who walks with wise men will himself be wise.”
These thoughts above are from Rev. Dr. Bill Greenwood, Jr., one of our associate partners in ministry living in Kernersville, North Carolina. Bill is a retired pastor after serving over thirty years in four North Carolina Baptist churches. He also has been active in over 20 short-term mission trips to many countries. You can follow up with him here.