I’ve always had an interest in learning what lessons others have gleaned throughout their pastoral ministry – in particular, as they look back upon their years with greater wisdom and insight. I wrote my own series of what I’ve learned over my first 30 years in ministry back in 2010 here.
I share many of my own lessons with pastors all over the world. And what never ceases to amaze me is how the stories and lessons learned are so similar, even across diverse cultures… whether in Africa, Asia or Latin America. We’re all made in the image of God. We’re all broken sinners in need of a Savior… no matter where we live.
A few months ago Kevin DeYoung, Sr. Pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC and board chairman of The Gospel Coalition, wrote about what he has learned in his years of ministry.
Here are two of the thoughts he shared…
“I often tell people that when I came to URC I told the search committee that my philosophy of ministry boiled down to three P’s: preach, pray, and be with people. Those are all really good. They’re still what I want to do in ministry.
“But I’ve had to learn a fourth P, and that is patience.
“I know I was naïve in how change happens—how long it takes to address things and how you have to build up trust and confidence.
“I always joke about when I first came there were some particular issues that I told the elders would be taken care of in six months. Then I said, well maybe in another six months. Then I said six years. And now I think, well, maybe in heaven.
“I know I’ve learned about patience…
“There are lots of little things you learn as a pastor, and some of them are simply part of growing up. …
“…And here’s the last thing I’ll mention. It goes back to the Bible story about Jacob wrestling with the angel. You remember, Jacob is touched in the hip socket and starts walking with a limp. It is true: given enough years, everyone ends up walking with a limp.
“It’s not all equal by any means.
“I’ve had less suffering than most other people. But if you live long enough, you’ll find that everyone is hurting.
“You’ll discover people’s marriages aren’t as good as they seem, or their kids are more troubled than they let on, or there’s a miscarriage or infertility, or there’s a parent who’s sick, or someone whose death is still the source of constant sadness, or there is a strained relationship, or there is an addiction, or there is an invisible illness.
“There’s just a lot of pain out there.
“Everyone you talk to is a sinner and a sufferer.
“As a young person filled with good theology, it’s easier to know the sinner part. And we can’t forget this, otherwise we will be poor friends, and I’ll be a poor pastor. Compassion without follow through or correction is not real love. But that’s only one part of the equation.
“You have to remember people are carrying around a lot of hurt, a lot of sadness, a lot of fears. I’ve had to learn that people are not just sinners; they’re sufferers too. And that shapes how you deal with sin and extend mercy. I hope I’ve learned that.”
Click here to read the full article by Kevin DeYoung.