57 random thoughts and suggestions for new pastors.

I’m a youth worker. We know this already! However, I actually trained as a pastor and have spent the last 14 years working closely with many church pastors. Here are a collection of random thoughts for pastors who are just starting off…

  1. Love people more than you love books.
  2. Teach the people you have, not the people you wish you had.
  3. Ask questions. lots and lots of questions.
  4. Hang out with other pastors.
  5. Spend time with the children’s ministry.
  6. Pray more for people than you talk about people.
  7. Knowing things that should make you a better preacher, won’t necessarily make you a better preacher.
  8. If you are not seeking God’s voice, you cannot share God’s Word.
  9. Placating difficult personalities rarely makes things easier.
  10. Neither does just ‘letting them have it’.
  11. You cannot be all things to all people… That’s not what that verse means.
  12. If your prayer meetings are empty, it doesn’t matter how full your services are.
  13. You can’t look after a congregation if you’re not looking after your family.
  14. You can’t look after your family alone.
  15. Preachers on youtube are not the best model for pastoral ministry.
  16. Training is not just for ‘other people’.
  17. Training alone does not prepare you completely.
  18. Let people serve – even if you can do it better than them.
  19. Train people – even if it’s easier to just do it yourself.
  20. Recognise traits of toxic people – and don’t give them any responsibly over other people or your time.
  21. Sing worship like your life depends on it. It probably does.
  22. Plan your time around the priorities the Holy Spirit lays on your heart. If you don’t – other people will plan your time around their priorities.
  23. See your job description as something that should be fulfilled by year 5, not day 1.
  24. Leave 10% of your time ‘free’ for growth that will come later. Don’t ever commit to something to simply make up the hours.
  25. Don’t hold grudges.
  26. Take people bowling.
  27. Keep your office tidy.
  28. Take your days off, and disconnect. No email or phone.
  29. Arrive early to welcome people – set the standard for everyone.
  30. Plan Sundays where you are just part of the congregation and not leading anything.
  31. Avoiding conflict doesn’t actually avoid conflict.
  32. Avoiding conflict doesn’t actually make life easier.
  33. Avoiding conflict usually creates more conflict.
  34. Deal with conflict in person – not over email or on the phone.
  35. Deal with conflict immediately.
  36. Treat volunteers professionally, and hold them to agreed standards.
  37. Throw off monkeys so you can shoot elephants! (Deal with the small annoying things as they jump up on your face, before they’re so many of them you can’t do what you’re called to).
  38. Find a small group of people who serve and dedicate most of your time to them. Then get them to dedicate their time to others.
  39. Love your Bible. Really really love it.
  40. Give most of your time to faithful, available and teachable people.
  41. Welcome criticism, but disregard most of it.
  42. Find people you trust to give criticism that you won’t disregard (and not just people who agree with you).
  43. Pray like your life depends on it. It probably does.
  44. Don’t see prayer as a function of ministry, but as an expression of relationship.
  45. Don’t be afraid of getting things wrong. You were never made to be perfect – in fact, God tends to get more glory when you’re not.
  46. Bring Jesus and the Gospel into every debate – see all disagreements in light of a Christ context.
  47. Find a new hobby.
  48. Stay healthy. Eat well, sleep consistently, exercise regularly.
  49. Look after your youth worker. Be involved with what they do – volunteer for ‘their’ ministry.
  50. Bring your administrator doughnuts.
  51. Eat breakfast every day.
  52. Spend more time with people than you do alone in your office.
  53. Spend time alone in your office.
  54. Read good books about being a pastor by people who have done it for years in small churches – for instance Eugene Peterson’s, The Contemplative Pastor
  55. Help people to pray.
  56. Ask for prayer often.
  57. Love what you do. Or stop doing it.

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