Life Lessons for Young Pastors

Take the Long View

As the saying goes, "Hindsight is 20/20." It's easy for us to look back and learn from our mistakes, but what about those entering ministry who haven't yet had the opportunity to experience them? No one will be perfect, but are there certain warnings young ministers ought to know going into the pastorate today? Pastors J.D. Greear, David Helm, and Andy Davis reflect on their many years in church leadership to offer some helpful advice for young pastors today.

J.D. Greear is the Lead Pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. David Helm is the Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Charles Simeon Trust, an organization dedicated the sound preaching of God's Word. He also serves as Pastor of the Hyde Park congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago. Andy Davis is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. 

Was there a particular piece of advice mentioned that stood out to you more than the others? If so, what was it? How has it caused you to rethink your approach to ministry going forward?
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Andy pointed out how Satan tends to use discouragement as a way of rendering us ineffective. In what ways have you experienced discouragement? What helped you during those times? How does knowing discouragement will come help you prepare for it in the future?
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David said, "The longevity of faithful service is the way God prepares us to do the work." Rather than seeking to change the world, he encouraged faithfulness in the small things where God has placed you. Are there ways in which your expectations might be too ambitious? If so, how? What would it look like for you to faithfully serve in one place longterm? How might that offer freedom from the need for large-scale success?
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Do you struggle with idolizing the approval of people? How have you experienced that temptation in ministry? What steps will you take to protect yourself from the danger this idol poses to your pastorate?
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John 21:15-17 (ESV)

Jesus and Peter

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Three times, Jesus connects the Peter's love for his Savior with the work of caring for the flock. As pastors, our love for Christ will be evidenced in how we give ourselves in service to His people. In other words, it is made visible through the ways in which we love the body of Christ. The call of a pastor is not to change the world, but to point a congregation to Jesus Christ. 

In what ways do you serve the people God has placed under your leadership? How do you express your love for them? What are some new ways you might be able to engage them on a personal level?
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David mentioned that one lesson he has learned is that people are not always what they appear to be. Have you witnessed God use people in surprising ways? If so, how? How might this inform the way you think about the potential of your people in the future?
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Though well-intended, many young pastors enter into ministry today believing God will use them to change the world through their gifts. Most times, that simply is not the case. God places people in our midst to love and serve in ways that consistently point them to Christ. Continue to kindle the passion God has given you. Seek out older mentors who will help you embrace faithful and realistic expectations. And trust that God will use you in unique ways to expand His kingdom in the world one life at a time. 

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