Becoming a Better Pastor
It was July 15, 2007. For most people it was just another typical Sunday. Some people were enjoying one last chance to sleep in before a busy work week began. Some people were headed off to the airport preparing to fly out for a week long family vacation. Some people were preparing for their regular shift serving tables at a local restaurant. And some people rolled out of bed early and were making their way to church for another typical Sunday morning service.
But not me. I mean, sure, I rolled out of bed early that Sunday morning. And yes, I would soon be making my way to church. But there was nothing typical about that Sunday morning for me. It's been nearly 13 years since that Sunday, and I can still honestly say I've never had another day quite like that one.
That Sunday began for me at about 7 in the morning, a full hour earlier than my Sunday's usually started back then. I pulled myself away from the comfort of my bed and began getting ready. I showered and shaved, brushed my teeth and starting getting dressed. I think I spent at least 15 minutes that morning staring at the clothes hanging in my closet trying to imagine every possible combination of suit, shirt, and tie before finally making my decision...after all, I wanted to make sure I looked my best.
By 8 o'clock, I was headed out of my apartment. I hopped in my car and started the hour long drive to a little town called Carlisle, but only after I picked up a sausage biscuit at Dairy Queen. As I made that drive along state routes and old country roads, butterflies fluttered through my stomach. I think that was the first time in my life I was nervous about going to church.
A little after 9, I pulled into a parking spot. I grabbed my coat and Bible and began walking toward the doors of that First Baptist Church. I was greeted with warm handshakes and friendly “Hello”s before making my way to the sanctuary. Sure, I had been in this church a handful of times before...but this day was different. I confidently strode toward my spot, sitting my Bible and notes down beside my chair on the stage. I attempted to exude confidence even though I felt like a deer caught in the headlights.
By the time I walked behind the pulpit and my sermon began, I was a nervous wreck. To this day I'm still glad there was a solid pulpit in front of me – if there wasn't, I think everyone would have been so distracted by my knocking knees that they wouldn't have paid any attention to my message. And in my mind it was one of the most important messages I would ever preach.
Why? Because July 15, 2007 was the first Sunday of my pastoral career, my very first Sunday as the pastor of a church.
Looking back on it now, I can admit that I didn't know much about ministry back then.
And that's not because I wasn't prepared. I had spent four years in college earning a Bachelor's Degree in Religion, and I was about halfway through earning my Master's of Divinity as well. But there's a big difference between what you learn in the hallowed halls of academia and what you need to know when you are pastoring a church.
So, in this blog, I want to share some of the lessons that I've learned over the last 12+ years that have helped me become a better pastor.