Several weeks ago, Jim Martin asked me an interesting question. He asked me to write five things new ministers need to know. I want to share what I told him.
I was prepared well for ministry. I had close friends and mentors to lean on. I did a ministry apprenticeship before leading a ministry. I even had graduate level education in theology and ministry.
Yet, I wasn’t completely prepared. There’s no substitute for experience.
I love ministry! I’m more committed to this calling than ever. But, when I first got started, I was on a steep learning curve. The experience has been invaluable.
These are the five things that came to mind when I answered Jim’s question…
1. Pay attention to your relationship with God.
It’s possible to serve in ministry and neglect your relationship with God.
Instead of reading Scripture because you love it, it’s easy to study just because you need to prepare something to say. You might even find that it’s easier to pray publicly than it is to pray privately.
I take a half day prayer retreat every month to cultivate my personal relationship with God. This year I’m taking one day each quarter to work and pray offsite.
I want to do everything within my power to make sure ministry comes out of the overflow of my heart.
2. Who you are is more important than anything you do.
This is one of the most valuable things I’ve learned. I could also say it this way: my character is more important than my accomplishments. The end never justifies the means.
This should be the case regardless of what someone does for a living. But, it absolutely has to be the case for those who serve in ministry.
3. Processes are more important than outcomes.
This is closely related to the previous one. Learn to be the right kind of person and treat others the right way. The outcomes will take care of themselves.
If you accomplish great things but mistreat people in the process, you really haven’t accomplished anything. Work through processes with integrity and godliness and you’ll be able to live with the results.
4. Learn to control your emotions.
You’ll want to bring a calming presence, not an anxious one. I know there have been times when I’ve worked against myself because I couldn’t control my emotions. I stated my view with too much angst.
If my passion isn’t calibrated, it repels people. Even if I’m right, when I’m angst ridden and frustrated, no one wants to listen to me. More than that, no one wants to be around me.
5. Be tough.
I wasn’t prepared to hear some of the things I’ve heard as a minister. I’ve come to this conclusion: if you aspire to lead, you need to be tough.
Critics and cynics are everywhere. Don’t let them sideline you. Make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t let the vocal minority derail you. “Fight the good fight.”
What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below.