I’ll never forget my first day as a young pastor.
I was 28 years old.
I was a youth pastor.
In fact I was the first youth pastor employed by our church.
My first day was spent travelling interstate to learn everything I could from another church’s burgeoning youth ministry.
What a way to start ministry life, travelling!
And a week later I was in the church office, straight into a staff meeting, getting prayed for and then celebrating the birthday of our Senior Pastor’s PA.
It was exhilarating and overwhelming.
I remember being desperate to do well. So I was a sponge, soaking anything I could learn from books, tapes (it was 1982!), courses and seminars.
However, I think the best resource I had was older pastors. Those who had proven integrity and fruit.
So let me be the ‘old guy’ for a minute and tell what I would say to a young pastor if they asked me
Tell me 5 things that will help me thrive in ministry
1. Love your spouse unreservedly and flee adultery like it was a hellish plague.
My simple philosophy is no marriage = no ministry.
Now that can sound harsh but the call to shepherd Christ’s flock is a significant responsibility and should never be taken lightly.
2. Focus on church growth and church growth alone and your soul will shrivel.
The ABC’s (attendance, buildings and cash) of ministry should never be your primary focus.
While they will grab you at times you must learn to wrestle them into their rightful place.
3. Never forsake the place of personal, private prayer and bible study.
People who practiced professional praying and Scripture study received a severe rebuke from Jesus.
Give yourself to waiting on the Lord and devouring Scripture.
4. Get some good ministry friends and love them generously.
Peers will help you sort out your head space at different moments in ministry. They’ll talk to you straight and with kindness.
They’ll help you keep things in perspective when things go wrong. Plus they’ll be a safe place when you need to vent.
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5. Get a recreational pursuit that has nothing to do with church.
It will help you replenish your soul plus make you a more interesting person.
Positive addictions serve as a healthy distraction from the day to day pressures of ministry.
In 2015 I did a podcast with Jeff Keady and Jonny Craig based on this post on the 200Churches podcast.
These guys have a superb podcast so check it out and subscribe.