I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned that many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.
Recently I had a pastor ask me for my “best advice” for other pastors. Wow! That’s hard to say. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all that I’ve learned. It could probably fill a book or two … but at least more than one blog post!
I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one that I would give to all pastors, to answer his question. I’m sure there’s more (and you can help by adding yours), but this post is at least a start. Of course, wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words around and I’d give this advice to any leader … some of them perhaps to any person.
Here are 12 words of encouragement for pastors:
Choose your friends wisely … but choose friends.
Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it.
The church can never love your family as much as you do.
Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no,” learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (You may want to read THIS POST from my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.)
If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you.
You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else … for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing … but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.
You have influence … use it well.
The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t. Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry.
No amount of accountability or structure will keep you from temptation if your heart is impure.
Above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23). Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.
Let God lead.
You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours.