The man in the pulpit has the responsibility for the spiritual care of the people in his particular sacred community and that is no easy task for many reasons and while there are a multitude of ideas and strategies that will benefit him in his calling there are also some presumptions and motivations that can be detrimental and undermine all of his efforts. So, with the intention to help my fellow pastors I offer seven don’ts that I have learned from others or through my own experience.
Don’t Take It Personal
Some people are just mean, others have been bitter for a long time. There are also those who are “gifted” with the ability to be troublesome in complex and creative ways. It is important for you to know that these people would act like this no matter who the pastor is. So their actions and attitudes are not necessarily because of you but because you happen to be the shepherd presently on duty.
Don’t Try to Raise the Dead
You will have people who are presently unable to function on the level Christian playing field. They might be chronically depressed, or habitually lazy, or burned-out from their former church. They need healing attention or periodic kicks in the pants or time to acclimate within their new surroundings. As you minister to them they will (hopefully) slowly rise to normalcy, but to think that it is within your power to change them overnight is counter to biblical narrative. Sanctification takes time.
Don’t Try to Be Successful
Be careful that you don’t adopt business models for your calling as a shepherd. A pastor needs a study more than he needs an office. He must pray more than he plans. There should be more evaluation of how the congregation is doing spiritually than how to grow the church numerically.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Pastors
No one else can be you—so be you. And if you can’t be you, be Batman.
Sure, you can and should learn from your peers but “iron sharpens iron” doesn’t mean being recast in their image. You are unique and you have been called by the One who fashioned you as His instrument for a particular task.
Don’t Be Afraid
Some common fears are: Loss of income, losing church members, not losing certain church members, enacting church discipline, feeling inadequate in the pulpit and wondering if you are making any difference in the lives of your people.
“The fear of man brings a snare” warns of more troubles to come. Fear causes a snare and being trapped becomes the new state of affairs. There is no possible world where this can be considered a good thing. So identify your fears, take them to the Lord, and then face them with His help and the help of others around you. If you don’t get over fear now, then it will continue to dominate you and your work.
Don’t Neglect Your Family
Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family. Don’t neglect your family.
Don’t Confuse Faithfulness and Fruitfulness
Remember, every person that came to Jesus needed counsel or should have confessed their sins or could have benefited from His teaching but many walked away without any desire to change. And we know that Jesus knew what each person needed and approached each person PERFECTLY and still there were those who walked away.
So resolve to be faithful like Jesus and leave the results to God.
Have you learned some dos and don’ts during your pastoral ministry? Talk to us in the comments below.