By Joe McKeever
As the policeman drove away, I got back in my car and started it up. I had just been the recipient of a speeding ticket—not 3 blocks from my house. I hate this. I’ve had a few over the years, and I always kick myself for getting another.
The problem that morning was that I’d gotten caught up in the self-improvement cassette I’d been listening to. As I pulled into the street, the voice on the tape said, “Have you ever noticed some people just never seem to learn?” I laughed out loud. “Yeah. I’m one of them!”
Pastors have to learn many lessons the hard way, some of them again and again until finally they take. Here are my top ten.
1. I am not the size of my church.
My self-esteem is in Christ. Big church or little, it has nothing to do with my calling, my abilities, or my faithfulness.
2. Theological degrees do not open doors for me.
The Holy Spirit does that. True, the lack of a seminary education might close a few doors, and a good theological education will better prepare me for what to do when the Spirit does open one, but no degree is going to work
magic for a pastor.
3. The ministry is not a career, but a calling.
We do nothing to “enhance our career,” but do a thousand things to “fulfill our calling.”
4. There is no substitute for physical presence.
A pastor needs to actually be with people in their crisis. Not a phone call, not a text message, nor an assistant. Be there!
5. Don’t believe every word of praise nor every bit of criticism.
Equilibrium is a good thing, and that is found in Christ alone. “Looking unto Jesus.”
6. Stay away from writing negative letters or emails.
Hard things should be dealt with in person or by phone. An email can outlive a crisis and a harsh letter can be an instrument in the hands of people with an agenda.
7. This ministry of the Lord is not about me.
As the Lord said to Samuel, “It’s not you they’ve rejected, but Me” (1 Samuel 8:7). Get over yourself.
8. Often, how people treat their pastor is a function of their relationship with Christ.
Stella, a lovely senior lady, told me, “I have always loved all my pastors.” Later, reflecting on that, I thought of Bill who had always opposed his pastors.
Stella loved her pastors not for what was in them but what was in her. Bill opposed his pastors not for what was lacking in them but what was lacking in him.
9. A small gift given sacrificially will inspire far more giving than one huge amount from a wealthy member.
Case in point: The widow of Mark 12. She left the temple that day not knowing the Lord had used her faithfulness as an object lesson or that her sacrificial gift would inspire God’s people to give generously for 2,000 years.
10. When He begins to do something great, the Lord loves to start small with ordinary people.
What lessons is the Lord having trouble getting through to you?