Top Ten Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Senior Pastor:
10) My preaching did not bring in all the people everyone else's preaching seemed to miss.
9) Being in a key position of leadership does not give me free reign to change "church" to match my preferences. Much of what occurs in churches (though seemingly traditional or useless or thoughtless) actually occurs because it is ministering to many. We must bear with one another. All good change usually comes slowly (despite professional critics demanding immediate change).
8) People do not want leaders; they want shepherds. Great shepherds know the Great Shepherd.
7) People really listen to what I say. A loose and thoughtless tongue has ramifications for many lives.
6) Rest, exercise, rhythm, and Sabbath enrich ministry. Working overtime, missing sleep, and neglecting personal well-bring wreaks havoc on ministry and family.
5) The priesthood of all believers is a doctrine to be believed and practiced. Decisions made and ministries conducted by the pastor alone or even an elder board alone, without congregation involvement, reject the efforts of the Protestant Reformation to release all God's people in Gospel ministry. (All that to say, God's people should submit to their leaders after giving input and follow willingly unless the leaders are acting ungodly.) So too, as a pastor I need priests in my life. I need brothers in Christ to walk with me, mentors to encourage me, friends to speak truth to me, and a flock to love me.
4) Criticism is normal. Pastors need thick skin, soft hearts, and discerning minds. Pastors need to be open to criticism. People who become professional critics, however, should not have easy access to the pastor. Pastors must set up their own safeguards, as well as, pray that other lay leaders stand up to help protect the pastor from constant criticism.
3) Any sermon that fails to proclaim Christ and make known the glorious Gospel of God the Son is worthy of the trash heap. Thus, sermon preparation needs to go deep so that sermon delivery doesn't skip off the surface of human souls. We must not neglect the ministry of the Word and Prayer...(see #2).
2) My greatest preparation for daily ministry and Sunday worship is found in personal prayer, corporate prayer, and in enlisting others to pray for me, my family, and Christ's flock.
1) I need the Gospel daily. I have failed and will fail as a pastor. I have sinned and will sin as a pastor. I am a saved sinner through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. I am forgiven, accepted, redeemed, and loved by God Most High. I am a son of the Father. I am a Spirit-filled servant of the King. My identity is based on Christ's life and work, not based on my life and work. Blessed am I because the LORD is my God.