Perhaps we can learn these lessons only through ministry and life experiences—and maybe we wouldn’t have listened to them anyway when we were younger—but here are some lessons I’d love to teach young ministers:
1. Somebody’s always watching you. In the past few weeks, I’ve run in to people in restaurants and airports who knew me, though I didn’t always remember them. They were a reminder to me that we’re always being some kind of witness for Jesus.
2. Nothing is really private. Emails and texts don’t always remain private. Sometimes, we foolishly think we’re being “private” when we’re actually sinning with someone else. Even our computers are not as private as we think.
3. Dumb social media choices will haunt you. Ask a local employer, and see how many times they’ve rejected a potential employee because of something they found in a Facebook post or a tweet. Churches, too, check out those accounts.
4. You’re not as great as you think you are. You might be a better preacher than your friends, but numerous preachers around the world are better than you are. And, many of them have been humbled enough by ministry that they no longer worry about being great.
5. Ministry is not an 8-5 job. As a workaholic, I appreciate the desire of young ministers to protect their family time. If you plan to live by an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. time clock, though, you might not last long in ministry.
6. A paycheck won’t make you a Bible student or a prayer warrior. Getting a job doesn’t deepen your spirituality; in fact, it might get in the way of it.
7. Many laypeople may not speak your theological lingo, but they might love God more than you do. Look at their lives, and you’ll often find a deep, humble, teachable God-centered heart.
8. Hiding in your sin is stupid. You’re not getting away with anything before God, so why not be honest with Him and another trusted friend (James 5:16)? And, you won’t hide it forever, anyway…
9. You might fall morally. I’ve seen it happen so many times that I know it’s a possibility for any of us. Those who do fall often assumed it would never happen to them.
10. God will never, never, never, never let you down. It’s a lesson you try to believe when you’re young and learn to cling to when you’re old. He really is faithful. Always.
Older ministers, what would you add to this list? Younger ministers, let me hear your thoughts.