In about eleven days I’ll have been the pastor of this awesome church for one year. So much has happened in a year. I’ve preached a bunch of sermons. I’ve done a couple of weddings, a few baptisms, a couple of funerals, and I’m learning how to build a new church building with some awesome leaders. What am I learning in my first year as a solo pastor?
I’m learning to listen. The church needs someone to listen for those God moments. Those little reminders that God is at work and that its not about us as the people of God or me as a pastor. I’m also learning to listen to those who truly are led by God. One of my jobs is to empower the people of God to be the ministers. Finding people with a heart for ministry and for bringing hope to those people who need hope. Finally, I’m learning to listen to those who really need someone to just stop and listen. I want to be the kind of pastor who doesn’t mind not trying to have all the answers as opposed to the pastor who always tries to be “super fix it pastor to the rescue” which is easy to do as a pastor.
I’m learning to breathe. Breathing is important when you’re in ministry. No matter how big or small your church is that you pastor. Others need to see you breathe. Its a sign of ones trust in God to be at the center of all things. Its our opportunity as pastors to give God thanks for everything that happens in the life of the church even if its not the way we want it to be.
I’m learning to rest. I remember the pastor who charged me at my installation. Resting and taking care of myself, my mind, and my body have not been top of the list of things to do this past year. I’ve even had some warning shots fired at my head reminding me to stop and rest in God’s restoring power. Learning mostly to spend time resting in Christ and his love for me as his own. In spending time with God being one who prays often as a way of finding rest in God. I still enjoy what Nouwen says, “what would it look like if someone called the church office and asked for the pastor and the response of the secretary was sorry the pastor is out praying.”
I’m learning to enjoy my family. I had a pastor friend tell me not to do the same thing he did in sacrificing his family over the church in his first couple of years as a solo pastor. When the six year old wants me to follow his “neatly” drawn map in finding a secret treasure in the house, I sure as better get my “button” off my chair and go play with that little guy. I’m also learning that as I sit here and write this post that the kids aren’t getting any younger and if I’m hiding behind a computer or sitting in a meeting that I’m really not needed at I will miss this ride called parenting and enjoying our kids. Finally, enjoying the blessing of being married to a woman that I love more than anything and that continues to encourage me and love me no matter what. Knowing that again she is someone that I am not willing to lose because of my need to be “super pastor dude.”
Over this next week I will do some more reflecting on lessons learned and that I’m still learning as a first year pastor.