A friend of mine who also just passed the 10 year mark wrote a similar post that would be worth your time: You can find his post here.
About 2 months ago, I officially crossed the date on my calendar marking 10 years of preaching and full time ministry. I thought about writing a blog on that day about my 10 years, but… sometimes ministry is unpredictable and I didn’t have time then 🙂 I am a young man with much still to learn, but for those who are interested in what I have learned so far, keep on reading.
- There is a wrong way to be right.
I remember like it was yesterday my very first day in the office. I was excited to have a title, a job, and responsibility. I spent the entire week pouring over a passage of scripture in preparation for my Bible school class on Sunday.
I had some “hot topic issues” I wanted to throw the hammer down on in class. Because, that’s the smart thing to do with your first lesson (it was more than 10 years ago, give me a break.) I remember passionately condemning certain behaviors and being sure to label sin as sin.
I taught a very biblically sound Bible class, and I was… very, very wrong. It took me longer than I would like to admit to really begin to see that there is more to preaching than being doctrinally right. (obvious disclaimer: teaching the truth is a must.) However, if you teach the truth in a way that makes you appear arrogant, holier than thou, and all too happy to tell other people that they are wrong… You simply aren’t preaching the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
I have made it my practice since that time to be constant in prayer while preparing my lessons. I have made it my practice to not talk to anyone directly concerning sin in their life until I have first prayed for them, and assured them of my deep love for them. I have found that they are less likely to want to punch me in the face if they see that I am going out of my way to not be a jerk.
- The church is extremely patient.
I know of many minsters who have been treated poorly by members of congregations and their elderships. I am very fortunate that this has not been my experience. God has blessed me by allowing me to work with very patient brothers and sisters in Christ.
A Couple of years ago I got a new laptop. This meant I had a lot of files to transfer. I was combing through them I came across some of my sermons in my first few years of ministry. The worst mistake I’ve ever made was opening those files and reading them. They were terrible. I know, I know, some of you wonder if I have gotten any better. Ha Ha, very funny. Seriously though, I was in desperate need of grace and I am so thankful that I received it.
- I am not the smartest guy in the room.
Something about being “a Preacher” made me feel early on as if I had to have an answer for any religious question that anyone could ever dream of answering. Unfortunately, I didn’t and I still don’t. When a question was asked during Bible class and I wasn’t sure how to answer it, but someone else answered the question, I felt ashamed. I felt like somehow I was letting God down because I wasn’t able to answer every question thrown my way.
Since that time, I have grown to love and appreciate the fact that I am not the smartest guy in the room, and probably never will be. God has given us a wonderful church family and they are able to bless me with their knowledge and encouragement, just as I pray I am able to bless them, and that is ok. They can help me, and I can help them, just like we do in a …. Family.
- My ministry is more effective when I walk through the valleys with people
I have been able to be with church members on the very best days of their life. I have been present for their baptism, their wedding, the birth of their children, birthday parties, sporting events, concerts, plays, and much more. All of those are wonderful experiences and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
However, I have also been present during the worst of times. When a loved one is surrounded by their family in their home while they slip into eternity after a long illness. Sitting in a hospital room in the middle of the night while awaiting the outcome of a surgery. Being with a family during the loss of a child. Sitting and listening to couples as they are struggling with their marriage. Being an accountability partner for someone struggling with addiction of various kinds.
There is not one thing in the above paragraph that I could classify as something that I enjoy. However, I don’t know of anything else that I have done that has given me the place in an individual’s heart to be able to speak plainly to them about sin in their life, and they understand that I only want what is best for them. The more I serve them, the more I can help them.
- There is no greater friend in the world than a friend in Christ.
It has been said before and I will echo the sentiment. I have no idea how people make it through this life without the church. The people that want to say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the church are not only mistaken in their understanding of scripture (since that entire idea is unfounded and unbiblical) but, they are missing out on some of the greatest blessings in life. I have had many friends, none compare to the friends I have in Christ. They stick closer than biological family. We share dreams, goals, and priorities. They lift me up when I am down, and they allow me to do the same for them. The encourage me, they challenge me, they make me better. I have so many individuals that will drop whatever they are doing to help me if I need. It is one of the sweetest blessings a person can experience this side of heaven.
Are there ugly sides to ministry? Yup. Are there people who behave in ungodly ways within the church? Yup. However, people behave in ungodly ways in all walks of life. The difference in preaching is I am surrounded by the very best that humanity has to offer. When individuals lay their lives down and walk with the Lord, it is a beautiful thing. When I sum up what I have learned in my 10 years of ministry, it would have to be this, “I am so blessed.”
I love you all,