What a privilege to work with pastors over the past 50 years! Initially, I knit my life together with fellow pastors for mutual support.In the last 10 years I have worked with pastors in EFCA East as the Pastor Support Director.I have observed many things that I wished I had known when I started in church ministry and I still have much to learn as I continue to grow in Him.
I share with you, as a fellow learner, 8 areas that I feel are critical to healthy pastoral ministry.
1. TEND YOUR OWN SOUL!
It is critical for those who shepherd the people of God to know intimately and walk daily with the Great Shepherd. This takes time and intentional planning. It’s relationship building not just another thing we check off of our to-do list. A time of prayer, hearing from God personally as you read the Scriptures, and meditating is crucial. Your own spiritual growth needs to be your number one priority.
2. BE A SHEPHERD TO YOUR FLOCK!
As I read the scriptural qualifications for a pastor-leader, I have become more convinced than ever that we are to be healthy shepherds. This means we need to know our people well and their unique culture; spend time with them and listen to them. Value their ideas and work to bring unity, gently and patiently to your flock. Your people will follow a gentle, caring shepherd they can trust. Have tough skin, but a tender heart.
3. HANDLE CRITICISM WELL AND FIND WAYS TO GET GOOD FEEDBACK!
We have all been hurt. After all, sheep do bite. See if there is any value in what is being expressed and then set the rest aside. Bob Russell suggests that he would, “pay less attention to unreasonable criticism but (he) would be more aggressive in seeking objective feedback.” Might I suggest that you make sure that your leadership team is not all “yes” people. I found it very valuable to have people on my leadership team who brought different perspectives to my blindside.
4. WORKING WITH BOARDS AND COMMITTEES TAKES EFFORT!
One of the things they never taught me at seminary was the pastor/board relationship. Pastors who can work to effectively bring consensus on the leadership team will be rewarded with unity even in difficult church decisions. Take time to build effective relationships and watch out for power struggles.
5. LOVE ALL THE PEOPLE!
This flows from a humble spirit which sees me as I am and desires to help others as they are. I was told when I went to my first church to, “just love the people.” Now I need to let you know that just loving the people does not in itself alone make your ministry and service fruitful, but over the years, I have found that this is a necessary component. It takes Holy Spirit empowered guts and grit. Lord, help us to have hearts of compassion to pastor those who annoy us!
6. STAY OUT OF POLITICS!
We have to pastor and welcome people of all political persuasions. In order to do that, we need to be respectful to people of differing politics in our congregations. We preach the Kingdom of God, not the kingdoms of this world. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”
7. DON’T BE A COMPETITOR!
Our work is the Lord’s work. God has called each one of us to a particular place within His kingdom. One of the dynamics that I wanted to be sure to impart to pastoral gatherings was that we would not be competitive in comparing ourselves and our ministries. God has called each one to be faithful in our unique field. The results of our effort will depend on the work of the Holy Spirit and the receptivity of the soil. As pastors, we encourage each other and humbly learn from each other. “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each of us should carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:4-5)
8. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHARACTER!
Carey Nieuwhof states: “After all, in leadership, your competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you. Character, not competency, determines your capacity. When your leadership becomes all about you, you’ve stopped leading.” Another quote that I have shared with pastors over the past years says it well, “When giftedness outweighs character, implosion is not a matter of if, but when.” Be sure that you are allowing God to work in your life so that you are growing in and demonstrating Godly character. This gets back to personal accountability and tending your own soul.
As times change and our way of shepherding our churches develops to meet the current challenges, my deep desire is that we will allow God to empower us to reach this generation for Jesus.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
(2 Corinthians 4:5)
Latest posts by Jack Kroeze (see all)
- 8 Elementos Esenciales Para Un Ministerio Pastoral Saludable - April 24, 2023
- 8 Essentials For Healthy Pastoral Ministry - March 21, 2023
- El Valor Del Ministerio En Lugares Pequeños - October 20, 2020