A pastor friend of my is meeting with a group of people who are in the discernment process for local church ministry. All of them have completed, or are in, or are about to start seminary/theological education. He sent out an email asking those of us in ministry what we wished we would have learned or had been told before we launched out in local church ministry work. Below are my thoughts as someone five years out of seminary.
- Your ability to bring about transformation in the lives of individuals and church will be directly related to your own personal transformation. Do not neglect it or see it as secondary. Unless you are ruthlessly pursing deeper obedience to Christ, you cannot expect to see it in others.
- Be discipled. Find someone you can follow who will make you a better follower of Jesus.
- Know your defensive routines, and how they impact your relationships. Work so that you do not operate out of them.
- Understand anxiety and how it affects individuals and systems.
- Conflict will happen. It isn’t bad, it just is. Systems will get anxious. It isn’t bad, it just is. Learn how to manage both and see them as opportunities to learn and grow, both for you and others.
- Learn to ask for what you need.
- Learn to listen well. You don’t hear everything well. Listen to what they are saying and aren’t saying. Listen to what the Father is saying. Listen to what your defensiveness and need to be right, or be perceived as the leader, is saying. Then ask more questions.
- Be courageous.
What would you say to those just starting out in ministry?