23 Lessons I’ve Learned in 23 Years of Ministry

I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in December, 1989. I was degreed and believed I was ready to take on my first pastorate. What I discovered was that despite the best efforts of my professors, much of what it takes to be a pastor can only be learned “on the job.” 

I have now been in the Gospel ministry for 23 years, and in that time I have learned a few lessons. Just for the sake of symmetry, I’ll list only 23 here.

  • Ministry is messy.
  • Sunday comes around with alarming regularity.
  • Sermons aren’t THE answer.
  • God meant it when He told us to rest.
  • The opposite of faith is fear.
  • It’s okay to admit you don’t have all the answers.
  • It’s okay to admit you’re not perfect.
  • Real Christians living real Christian lives make a real difference.
  • Taking the road less traveled brings takes you places you’d never go otherwise.
  • Buildings are tools.
  • Buildings have gravity.
  • People have a tendency to get worked up more over music style in worship than how many people are lost and facing an eternity in hell.
  • We can do more together than we could ever do apart.
  • If people don’t get connected they will likely not stay.
  • Parents tend to go where their children want to go.
  • Grandchildren have gravity.
  • People tend to avoid confrontation or embrace confrontation rather than biblically dealing with issues.
  • Never sacrifice family your family on the altar of the church.
  • Never sacrifice your family on the altar of the world.
  • God is God and people are people … in every time and every place.
  • God’s truth is not clay to be molded or an ax to be wielded. 
  • Do what you do best most.
  • There is no substitute for the favor of God.
  • God is more faithful than you can imagine.

 

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

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