I have had the role of a pastor, on and off, for over twenty years. It is an important part of my identity and I’m thankful to be able to serve in this way.
As part of my reflections as I approach fifty, here are five things I have learned about being a pastor.
- Invest in Your Own Spiritual Life. It is sometimes assumed that pastors are the most spiritual people because they are paid to pray and read the Bible. The truth is that it is easy to fall into spiritual emptiness as a pastor. One of the most important things a pastor can do is to be intentional in developing their own spiritual life.
- Be a Lifelong Learner. I am thankful for my time in seminary but it was not enough. As a pastor, I need to continue to learn. Sometimes that is from formal education but it is also by reading, listening to podcasts and talking to other pastors.
- Develop Leaders. For myself, as for many pastors, it is easier to do everything myself. The most valuable shift has been from just doing ministry to training leaders to do ministry. This should be the main role of the pastor.
- Set Goals. A pastor cannot know if they are effective unless they set goals. It is not enough to just do “pastor stuff.” Setting goals and working with others to accomplish the goals can make all the difference in the world.
- You Can’t Please Everyone. I am a people-pleaser by nature. But the fact is that a pastor cannot please everyone in the congregation. I know that there are some people in my church who would be happier if our worship was more traditional and some if it were more contemporary. As a pastor, I seek to discover God’s direction, evaluate the needs of the congregation and just do my best. I don’t like it when some people are disappointed but I can’t please everyone.