A few nuggets of pastoral wisdom (I hope!) (reposted from 2010)

A few days ago I was looking through some old posts and came across this one which I’d forgotten. Thinking it might be useful to some, I repost it here.

A few nuggets of pastoral wisdom (I hope!) that I’ve picked up over the years:

  • People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
  • It’s really all about helping people to know that they matter.
  • If the prayer life isn’t right, the ministry probably won’t be either.
  • You can never answer the same question too many times.
  • Pray, love, evangelise, make disciples.
  • If you’re feeling depressed about your ministry, go out and do some visiting, and you’ll soon feel better. Too often, depression comes from ministering to a desk instead of ministering to people.
  • Build your week around your sermon preparation, not the other way around.
  • Pray with people a lot. Don’t be shy about it.
  • Someone’s going to decide what your ministry priorities should be, and generally speaking, you’ll be happier and more productive if it’s you (thank you, Harold Percy!)
  • Make disciples, not just churchgoers.
  • Remember that people don’t know the Bible anything like as much as you think they do.
  • Remember what it was that caused you to fall in love with Jesus in the first place. Make that the central part of your ministry to others.
  • ‘Do God’. That’s what people expect from a priest, and they have a right to expect it!
  • Teach Christian basics often.
  • Competence is important, but holiness is even more important.
  • Always preach for a verdict (thank you, Donald Coggan!).
  • Nurturing people’s relationships with Christ and with one another is vastly more important than passing on denominational traditions.
  • Eat less, sleep more, hug God once a day.
  • Live your own life of discipleship transparently so that people can see the joys and the struggles.
  • Take days off faithfully, and have another consuming passion besides ministry.
  • Build relationships all the time.
  • The leader sets the tone for the level of honesty and openness in the community.
  • Schedule the things you don’t like to do, and make sure you stick to that schedule.
  • 50% of the job is just showing up. Especially at times when people need your pastoral support – just by showing up, you’ve already shown them that you care and that God cares.
  • This is a calling, and sacrifice and suffering is an integral part of it.
  • Don’t try to please people. Try to please God and love people.
  • Thank people often.
  • The work never ends, so stop and go home while you’ve still got energy for your family.
  • Make sure volunteers have clear job descriptions, good training for their positions, and plenty of support.
  • People won’t believe that God accepts them unconditionally until the minister accepts them unconditionally.
  • Tell people the truth (as in Matthew 18:15-20).
  • Preach the Gospel regularly and invite people to respond to it.
  • Don’t react to the atmosphere on Sunday – you’re the leader and it’s your job to create the atmosphere (especially important when congregations are discouraged).
  • Ministry is about wandering – wandering through the Scriptures, wandering around among the members of the congregation, wandering around among people outside the church family… (thank you, David Hansen!)
  • Get the congregation to give to more than just their own church’s needs – it will make them feel good about themselves, it will do good in the world, and it will often pull the regular giving along with it.
And finally…
  • When the weather is good, get on your skidoo and go hunt rabbits. There’ll be plenty of bad weather days when you can do your work (from the former Bishop of the Arctic, Jack Sperry!).

Anyone else got any nuggets to add?



One thought on “A few nuggets of pastoral wisdom (I hope!) (reposted from 2010)

  1. This is really helpful- I needed that! Tahnk you- I may rip that to my blog.
    Sometimes I have used ‘Do not give up in the darkness, what you chose to do in the light’ or ‘Do what you would do if you weren’t afraid’ to myself.

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