Dear Young Pastor,
I pray you’re doing well. Hope the family is fine and your ministry is increasing. But if you’re like me, you probably struggle at times. I imagine there are some things you “didn’t learn in seminary” that you wish you had. I bet you wish you had taken that conflict management class rather than that extra exegesis elective. Maybe you’re a bit confused by everything in the local church. There might be that one deacon who gets on your nerves. I simply wanted to remind you of a few truths to help you get through the rough times.
First, you need Jesus.
You need Jesus in every facet of pastoral ministry. The counseling, disciplining, budgeting, and planning can wear you down. But remember you need the gospel too. He is the One who builds His church so let Him do it. Allow the soul soothing Good News of Jesus be the balm to your wound.
Second, pray for yourself.
I’m sure you do pray…for your church, sermon preparation, ministry, and everything related to others. But when was the last time you prayed for yourself and family? What are your needs? Just take a moment and pray, remember your Father hears.
Third, read the Bible daily.
Again I’m sure you read the Bible for everything and everyone other than yourself. Rest in the truth of His Word, His promises for you. I know seminary taught us to keep everything in context but don’t forget the Word is living and active. Let the Spirit awaken your heart to the beautiful truth of Scripture. Read it and read it daily.
Fourth, don’t neglect your family.
I bet you’re busy; serving the church, maintaining another job if you are bi-vocational, and probably working on a degree. Don’t forget your first ministry – your family. Your wife and children need you. Remember to be a husband to your wife and father to your children before you are a pastor to others.
Fifth, find ministry friends.
Seek out faithful friends. Listen, learn, vent, and share. There are men who want to pour into your life and remind you that you’re not alone. And by the way, you’ve probably figured out already that you don’t know it all. Let me encourage you to find an older brother to mentor you. Learn from his successes and mistakes.
Sixth, be patient.
Move slow and be patient when it comes to sacrificing your local church’s sacred cows. Don’t rush into making too many big changes unless it is absolutely necessary. Allow the church culture to grow on you as you grow on them. Win their trust by being patient and wise.
Seventh, be less critical.
Seek to be less critical of others, everyone is struggling. I’m sure you are aware that the local church is imperfect because it is filled with sinners…just like you. Be quick to forgive and seek forgiveness from others.
Eighth, set an example.
Paul told Timothy to not let anyone despise his youth but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. Led by example as well as word. Your conduct matters for the responsibility you have.
Ninth, be humble and confident.
God has called you to be a pastor to that church. He has gifted you to preach so be confident and bold. But do so with humility. Recognize your own inadequacy but don’t let that stop you from doing your ministry. Be firm in your convictions. Don’t more from them unless Scripture convinces you otherwise.
Tenth, preach Christ and Him crucified.
Preach Christ! Give the people Jesus every time you stand and preach. He is everything. Craft your sermons, work on your delivery, and tweak your illustrations but preach the crucified and risen Christ. He alone saves and sustains.
A Few Final Words
You’re strange. No seriously. You believe that a Man was raised from the dead and rules the universe. And you have decided to give your life to telling people about Him. To add to that, you’re young. You’re an anomaly. It goes against the stereotypical image of what a pastor should be, I guess. You don’t have wrinkles or grey hair yet. But from what I’ve heard, you will soon enough. So be faithful, pursue holiness, and love Him. I’m on this journey with you. Let’s do this together.
A Fellow Young Pastor