Welcome to your new church, young pastor. You’ve studied, prayed, and waited for this day to come. I know that feeling from so many years ago: the eagerness to get started, the ideas that keep popping up in your head, and the excitement leading to your first Sunday. I’ve been there, and there’s nothing like it. I’m thrilled for you and your church!
And though you probably don’t need any more encouragement right now, I want to share some advice that should serve you both now and in the future. These words, written in love, are from pastor to pastor, father to son, brother to brother:
- Be humble. Right now, you might be energized by the call, the church, and even the position that God has placed you in. Don’t lose this feeling but go further by imitating Jesus’s example as seen in Philippians 2:5-11. In this passage, He is the prime example of what it means to be a humble servant for the Father. Most of all, remember that being a pastor is not a position of status but a posture of servant leadership.
- Be prayerful. A pastor prays for his people. Period. Your effectiveness in ministry is directly tied to your time in prayer. By praying with a heart of love for your church and your community, you are appealing for all the forces of heaven to act on behalf of the gospel you are preaching. Place prayer high on your list every day and prove your love for people by praying for them.
- Be biblical. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul gives Timothy a simple response to a culture of subjectivity: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” Let no one ever say that you missed the mark in your preaching and teaching ministry. Instead, be faithful to plan, study, and make disciples throughout your call.
- Be loving. Peter wrote words that have always spoken to me: “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Love your church, your community, and your ministry. Spend time with them in visits, care for them in times of need, and in anything you do with and for them, do it out of love.
- Be gospel-centered. The gospel is the center of all that we do. While it might be that you’ve shared the gospel to people thousands of times, there’s probably someone out there that might be hearing this message for the first time. Paul’s advice to Timothy applies here: “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 CSB). Don’t breeze over the essential elements of evangelism in your ministry—there are souls out there in need of Jesus.
- Be gracious. It is by God’s grace that you can serve Jesus in your ministry in the first place. As God has given you grace, therefore, show it to others. Be gracious to your members, your staff, and people in your community. This means to be gracious to all you encounter, even those who may never darken the doors of your church or benefit you personally. And yes, even to those who may not like you for some reason.
- Be diligent. Ministry is not for the lazy. Of course, be careful to take time to be with your family and to take care of your body and soul. However, study hard, pray hard, and work hard. Paul wrote, “Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things” (1 Timothy 4:16). You may not always get it right but keep trying: it takes time and wisdom for you to grow in this discipline.
- Be cautious. There are going to be many temptations, distractions, and ministry directions. Be wary of the hype over the next new thing and take your time evaluating new ideas and trends. Rather than wearing out your church and staff with the latest and greatest, pursue a direction that offers stability mixed with some innovation. Change takes time, and keep in mind that consistency and familiarity are both helpful and useful for the long-term health of your church.
- Be peaceful. A person of peace is a breath of fresh air in the community. The words Jesus gave to His disciples then are just as true today: “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, CSB). Find out how to connect with your community leaders and involve your church in a way that might bring people to Jesus.
- Be joyful. The weariness of ministry is real and taxing on pastors. However, when you love your church and your community, ministry is not a burden but a joy. When you are not feeling joy, it may be time to take an inventory on your daily life: are you praying, reading, studying, and spending time with your church? Are you taking a sabbath each week? Is there unresolved conflict that you need to deal with? Realigning your life can help you serve Jesus with joy.
Young pastor, again, welcome to your new work. I’m sure that everyone is excited, thrilled, and energized about this new adventure. This is normal and natural, and so enjoy this precious time! Everyone is praying for you, including, of course, me. Serve Jesus well—may He get the glory for you and your work in Him!
NOTE: Join us at Explore the Bible as adults and students study the doctrines and applications related to 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Kids will continue to work on their Bible skills by studying the books of Deuteronomy, Job, Ecclesiastes, Mark, Isaiah, and Micah. Find out more about these various studies by clicking here.
Dr. Fran Trascritti (@frantras) is a husband, father, and grandfather, but most of all, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has pastored churches for over 23 years and now serves with the Explore the Bible team at Lifeway. You can reach him by emailing Fran.Trascritti@Lifeway.com