Editor’s Note: we are going to be including regular features of interest to Southern Baptists. There is a fine new blog called “Small Church Shepherds ” and I invited them to share their posts here.
I was ordained into the gospel ministry six year ago, and have been on staff as either a pastor or youth pastor for the better part of 12 years. To this day I will quickly and without hesitation say that there is nothing I would rather do than shepherd the flock of God. From time to time, however, there are things that make me think “I wish I had known that before I went into the ministry.”
You will bleed
Sometimes there will be conflicts in the church that will require you to make a biblical stand. You will be amazed at the fact that not everyone will hold to as high of a view of scripture as you do. They will operate from a place of Sola Feels, instead of Sola Scriptura. As the pastor, you must be the one who says “The Bible says ____________, therefore we will/will not do ______________.” Feathers will be ruffled, and you will be in the crosshairs. You will be forced to choose between acceptance by the people, or faithfulness to God, knowing that choosing faithfulness will mean bleeding.
People will ghost you
There will be many people in your ministry, who for no apparent reason, ghost you. Simply put, you will visit them in the hospital, pray for them during hardships, offer wise counsel during tragedy, maybe even baptize them, only for them to reward you by suddenly going off the grid. You will call, text, send up smoke signals, and make other attempts to contact them only for your efforts to be responded to with…wait for it…keep waiting…nothing. You will wait and wait for a response, only to never get one. You will wonder what the problem is, only to never find out. You will think “if i knew what the problem was, maybe I could fix it.” But that’s the thing, you may never know. I wish someone had told me about ghosting, before I went into the ministry.
Not every sermon will be a homerun
There will be some Sundays that you will step behind the pulpit, and regardless of how much preparation has gone into the sermon, the sermon will fall flat. It just doesn’t seem to come together for some reason. You will step out from behind the pulpit feeling like a failure, and you’ll want to go down yourself during the invitation, and repent for giving such a terrible sermon. No one prepared me for the days when I swung for the fences, missed, and fell down in the batters box.
Comrades will fall
I wish someone had told me prior to going into the ministry, how much it would hurt when I witnessed a brother pastor disqualify himself from the ministry. Ministry is a war zone, and I’ve seen too many fallen soldiers already. Their failures serve as lessons for me to practice in my own ministry, so that, by God’s grace, I won’t join in the numbers of their ranks.
Applying the gospel
In all of these things that I wish people had told me before going into the ministry, the gospel has proven precious to me. When I bleed in the ministry, I’m reminded that every road of suffering that I walk, was first walked by my Savior. When I feel ghosted by others, I’m reminded that my Savior was ghosted by those who walked closest with Him. When I swing for the fence in my sermons, only to fall flat on my face, I’m reminded that if I preached Christ and Him crucified, then that is enough to glorify the Father. When I see brother pastors fall, I’m reminded of my desperate need of the gospel, and I’m reminded of a Savior who is good to the dirtiest of sinners.
What other things do you wish you would have known before going into the ministry?