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10 tough pieces of advice you'll want to consider

| by Thom Rainer

The last thing pastors need is someone to offer them advice.

As a former pastor and confidante of pastors, I know. They receive “advice” every day of the week. Some of it is well intended. Some of it is not. All of it cumulatively is overwhelming.

Thus, it is difficult for me to pile on. But I do want leaders to hear those pieces of advice that are really difficult to heed. 

The gut-level truth

These admonitions are difficult to receive even if pastors know they are true. 

Love your members unconditionally. That’s all of your members. Even that deacon who told you that you had no business being in ministry. Even that ministry director who told you God told her it’s time for you to leave. We are to love as Christ loves us. Unconditionally.

Don’t focus on your critics. This one is really challenging. They are the constant ringing in our ears. They are squeaky wheels. Enough of the metaphors. It’s hard not to jump when a critic barks.

Make the tough personnel decisions sooner rather than later. It won’t get any better. It won’t get any easier.

Accept that you won’t be loved by everyone. I’ve gotten to the point in my life that I’m okay with a simple majority. I’m just not sure I have it!

Put those things on your calendar that you often neglect. You know what I’m talking about. Family. Devotional time. Gospel conversations. Don’t neglect the best for the good.

Accept the lows of ministry as normal. If you haven’t been attacked by critics, you probably aren’t leading. If you haven’t been torn up by a family tragedy, you need a heart transplant. You will have lows. It’s a part of ministry. It’s a part of life.

Don’t compare your church to others. Your church is not that other church. Bigger is not better. Newer is not cooler. God has you at your church at this time for a reason. Find joy in that reality.

Learn to be content. That green grass is someone else’s brown grass. Unless God clearly—very clearly—calls otherwise, be content where He has placed you in ministry. Even be excited about it.

Learn to rejoice always.  It’s healthy. It’s biblical. Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” I’m glad the translator added the exclamation point.

Have fun.  Life is too short to stay in the doldrums and focus on the negative. Our ministries are a brief but incredible time to make an eternal difference. Love it all. Have fun. Lighten up. Learn to smile.

The heroes

Such is my counsel. Such are my admonitions to you pastors.

By the way, you who serve the churches are my heroes.

I hope you know how much I appreciate you, admire you, and pray for you.

Photo source: istock

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 25 books, including his latest release from B&H Publishing Group: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church. His 2013 book, I Am a Church Member, has sold more than one million copies.

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