Unless you have personally worked as a Pastor, it’s impossible to know all the ins and outs, honestly. Whether it be the challenge of finding work/family balance or the stress of talking about church giving, once you become a pastor, your eyes are opened to a whole new world.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a church leader? As for me, I wish I had known about these five things beforehand:
1. It’s hard.
I’ve been pastoring for less than three years. Before being Campus Pastor, I was an Assistant Pastor, Youth Pastor, District Youth Director… I did a lot of difficult things.
But for whatever reason, I thought pastoring was just the next logical progression and that by the time I got there, it’d be a piece of cake. I remember looking at my pastor behind the pulpit many times and thinking, “I can do that.”
If I’m being honest, I was also cynical and judgmental of his leadership. As a Youth Pastor, especially, I was well-loved by students and parents and couldn’t understand the conflicts people seemed to have with the pastor. “If he were just more (insert any naïve adjective you can imagine).”
Of course, that was before I became one.
I never understood that the man and the message behind the pulpit represented just a fragment of the battles and challenges the pastor faced that week. Leadership meetings, budget meetings, counseling those in crumbling marriages, navigating personal attacks… the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s also gratifying, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. But I wish someone had told me how wrong I was!
2. There’s an expectation of omnipresence.
I fully expected to be “on-call” for the sick and emergencies. I didn’t know that not everyone has the same idea of what constitutes an emergency as I did. I wish I had more training (and warning) about navigating the “tyranny of the urgent.” Especially when the urgent is, many times, not necessarily important.
Prayer has been my salvation and helped me to “walk in wisdom…making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5, ESV).
3. Workaholics abound, but healthy families do not.
Staying in these kids’ good graces is another full-time job.
There are a lot of workaholic pastors. They’re available for anything 24/7, are always at the church, and rarely take time off. Many even have what most would call “successful ministries” and growing congregations. I’ve also learned that many have rocky marriages, intense battles with depression, and other issues that risk destroying their families.
Often, in our desire to be “successful” pastors, we neglect our first congregation — our family. As a father of six, I often have to remind myself that one of the chief qualifications of a pastor is that “He must manage his household well…” (1 Timothy 3:4, ESV).
4. Vision alone isn’t enough.
I thought an inspiring vision for the church’s future would be enough to provoke people to action. And vision is essential — “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint” (Proverbs 29:18, ESV). But vision alone isn’t enough if you lack the implementation strategy.
Broad visionary statements like “Reach! Grow! Serve!” look great on a graphic but require a strategy that says, “This is how we’re going to reach, and this is how we’re going to manage our growth, and this is how we’re going to serve our community specifically.”
5. Pastors are the Chief Fundraisers for the church.
I foolishly assumed that financial stewardship in the church was a given and that people believed the same things about tithing, gifts, and offerings as I did. To say that I was wrong about church giving would be a vast understatement.
Pastors have to — and should — spend a lot of time teaching the Scriptural view of stewardship and finances. It’s a topic we shy away from for various reasons, but the Word of God is clear that money has devastating potential if not appropriately managed.
“Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it” (Ecclesiastes 7:12, ESV).
Additionally, I didn’t realize how important it was to make it easy for my congregation to give. In a changing world, people rarely have cash on them for church giving, and even for those who practice tithing, it’s so easy to forget a checkbook at home.
Teaching stewardship, generosity, and giving is challenging enough — what a shame it would be if I bring people to the point of faithful obedience but don’t provide them with the technical means to see it through!
A solution like Givelify for church giving is critical for churches with a vision and want a strategy to see it funded and supported!
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