I recently began reflecting on the last ten years of ministry since graduating from seminary. These posts are my personal reflections on my journey as a Christ follower as well as a pastor and if anything I hope will be useful to those considering pastoral ministry. Here’s what I’ve shared so far. I’ve learned to not put a huge emphasis on the robe and the degrees I’ve earned in my ministry. I’ve made the mistake of drawing attention to them and if anything relying on them to prove my credibility to those looking at me that I am worthy of my call from God to serve as a pastor. It’s not all about the degrees on the wall or the heavy back robe. It’s about the call of God in my life to make a difference in the world and to help others move to place of caring about what God cares about when it comes to being people of good news.
It means being real and it means coming down from the ladder in a way that shows the world that I am no better than anyone else and that loving others as Jesus loved indeed is the mission we’ve been given as Christ followers. I’ve also learned to not talk so much. I’ve learned to ask more questions. I’ve learned that sometimes I don’t need to have all of the answers. I’m still learning. Just today I was talking to someone about how we pastors love talking and that we love the sound of our voice. We have this tendency of not knowing when to be quiet. If anything I’ve learned in my ministry that I don’t need to prove myself. I have nothing to prove. Of course this is something I still fall short in. I do sometimes fall in the trap of having to show others that I am actually capable and can do what God has called me to do in the world. Like I said. I’m still learning. Here are some other things I’ve learned. These things are in no particular order.
3. I would have been a little more gutsy, taken some more risks, and been a bit bolder. We pastors love pleasing people. We can’t say no. We have a hard time saying no. We don’t want to hurt anyones feelings. For every no I’ve most likely said yes a million times over. Here’s the deal. Sometimes saying no is a good thing. Sometimes saying no can be a healthy thing. It’s good for the soul and it’s a way to put up healthy boundaries that protect our hearts, minds, bodies, as well as our families. I think some of the mistakes I’ve made have been in those moments where I said yes when in all actuality I should have said no. When we say yes too many times the ones we love are put in a an awkward place. I don’t have to be superman. I can’t be superman. I can’t fix the world. Only Jesus can bring calm into the chaos of the mess we sometimes live in. Leadership sometimes means letting others down in a way that is gentle and doesn’t harm a persons intentions or a persons need for spiritual care as well as a persons need for their pastor. There are also have been those divine moments where I knew that God was at work and that my no sometimes needed to be a yes. Honestly? I’ve seen God at work in my yes moments when I wished I would have said NO. Does God still show up in the NO moments? Of course.
I would have also been a little more gutsy and a bit bolder in my ministry. I would have stood up for myself a little more and I would have not been afraid to be honest and real with my feelings. I think in any career there are those moments that we become doormats for people to walk all over. I would have been a little more courageous and trusted in God to help me with those moments where I felt like I wasn’t getting my point across or if I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I think with the need to please people we sometimes forget to take more risks especially when it comes to taking care of ourselves day to day as pastors and for every moment I should have been a little more bold, I wish I would have prayed more. I don’t think I prayed enough when it came to being risky and bold.
As for being someone of good news and a little more risky in the presentation of the gospel message, I wish I would have been a little more intentional in the way I had built relationships with others especially the strangers I met over the years. I wish I would have responded to those moments in my life where I needed to be a little bold in the way I asked questions and in the way I interacted with the stranger in the coffee shop or the persons I’d meet while picking up my kids from school. If anything I wouldn’t have been so darn ashamed of the gospel message and I would have trusted in the holy spirit to do the work of transforming hearts and minds. I think sometimes at least for me I need to get over the fear of answering that one particular question that always seems to appear at the right time and right moment, “What do you do for a living?” If I could change anything over the last ten years?
I wouldn’t have been so darn afraid to say that, “You know what? I’m a pastor.”
Romans 1:16 The Message (MSG)
16-17 It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”
More to come.