20 years ago I left my position as an associate pastor. Actually, it was the 3rd associate/assistant pastor position that I had worked in during my 20’s. I was 31 and I would spend the next 3 years in transition moving to Dalton to start a Church where I would be the Lead Pastor.
This article is to give younger ministers some pointers on how to still be ministering in 20 years with the fire of God. Before I give you these pointers I want to point out that during my entire ministry career I have had to be a bi-vocational (working a full time job elsewhere). This is important to remember because many ministers my age are only still in the ministry because it is a job and they don’t have the skills to get an equivalent paying job anywhere else. They are in the ‘ministry’ but the fire has gone and it is now just a job. I can quit ministering anytime so I still do it because I want to (at least most of the time).
Warning, this post is not a feel good, ‘go gettum boy’ talk. It is straight talking. If you are easily offended then don’t read on!
5 Things for a Young Minister to be Successful for the Long Term
1. Learn to Truly Submit To the Leadership Above You Even When you Disagree
It’s hard to see when you are young but the times when you disagree with your leadership about methodology, direction, etc. that the issue in disagreement is not the important thing. It’s not about who is the best gifted (or the most anointed if you are a Charismatic) it’s about character and humility. God leads you into these situations on purpose because He is testing you to see if you will be a servant or do you have to be the ‘man’ or be ‘right’. If you don’t pass this test arrogance and intolerance will follow you the rest of your life. If you fail this test you will have to ‘promote’ yourself after that because God won’t until you pass this test. King David was anointed as a teenager but he was not made King until he was out of his 20’s because he had to learn that God promotes because in God’s kingdom your gift, calling, or latest marketing page is not enough for Him.
2. Honor and Respect Those Who Have Been There Before You
Believe it or not in a decade or two you will be one of the so-called old ones. No one has accomplished anything without the help of those who have gone on before them. Do we have something new from the Lord? Maybe, probably, but the ministers that came before you were also given something ‘new’ from the Lord and if they hadn’t been brave enough to do their ‘new’ thing you would have never been able to do your ‘new’ thing. The kingdom of God is built brick upon brick. When you think that the whole world revolves around you then all you are doing is showing your immaturity.
3. Learn Endurance
Paul told Timothy to learn endurance like a good soldier. I can guarantee that all the rest of us have to learn it too. Until you have been in the ministry (just being a Christian doesn’t count) for at least 3 years and have had multiple opportunities for failure, offense at others, and offense at God you haven’t even started to learn endurance. Anybody can last 3 years just based on adrenalin and newness of what you are doing. Harsh? Maybe, but do you want to be around 3 decades later? Then you have to learn to do things even when you are sick, it’s not fun anymore, you don’t feel the anointing, and everybody has left your ministry. It has been my experience that 3 years is a minimum before you get to enroll in this program.
4. Learn Ministry Skills
Everybody likes to watch young ministers when they first start out. They are not usually near as good as they and their mothers think they are. But we like to be around them because their zeal makes up for any of their mistakes. This is God’s grace.
But zeal alone on a 40-year minister is no longer attractive. We need to keep our zeal for all of our life but zeal alone has its limits. While you are young and full of zeal and you are in the grace period look for mentors who are good at your calling and learn from them. Buy every book and go to every conference you can afford to get better at your calling. Then when you are 40 you can be both full of zeal and good!
5. Learn Relationship Skills
If you want to last in the ministry you will have to develop good relationship skills. Your skills in teaching, music, etc. will not guarantee success in the long run. You will have to learn how to love, speak with, listen to, negotiate, and love people. Why? Because ministry is about people and people is about relationships. Most young ministers that start out in their 20’s as Lead Pastors usually fail during their first one or two pastorates because of relationship skills. Preaching makes up at most 3 hours a week – Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. So what are you going to be doing the rest of the time? Ministering to people one on one or in small groups. My experience has been relationship skills are harder to learn than how to teach.
Well, that is enough for now. Probably more than enough.
These are my thoughts. What are yours?