I’m 50. I’ve been a senior pastor for a little over five years. I was an assistant for a little over ten years. I began as a Christian school teacher for five years. Then I went to Bible college. I received an MA while working under the senior pastor. I was in my 40s. I see God’s hand in it all.
If I could give advice to men entering the ministry, here are the top five (not in any particular order) exhortations I would give (not that I am anybody – these are simply thoughts God brought to my mind as I was studying today):
- Don’t enter the ministry as a senior pastor fresh out of seminary. Find a godly man who is in ministry and learn from him. Realize that you may need to be bi-vocational to do this. Rare is the exceptional man than can move from seminary to the senior pastorate. Note: Godly men are not always successful and prosperous in terms of church growth. A lot of sizable churches are run by the most ungodly men around. Find someone willing to invest in you.
- Serve more than you speak. Real people resent men who are always speaking but never available to serve in practical ways. When it comes to serving, your wife and children need to be at the top of your list. Many will resent you for this. Better they resent you than having your wife and children resent you.
- Pray formally and pray by practicing the presence of Christ with you always. If you tie your hope to people, you will be sorely disappointed. But Christ never disappoints. Walk in the Spirit. Build a healthy mindset through constant prayer (Colossians 3.2).
- Realize that you are not in ministry to defend your professors’ ideas. They are no longer with you. Jesus is. There are things which you have learned in the theoretical world of seminary that you may later eschew after spending much time in the Book. Don’t lock yourself into labels, and try not to be sanctimonious about it.
- Make sure your illustrations truly have something to do with the Bible truth you are presenting. The Word is sufficient. Sometimes your best friend is The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. It’s the best commentary on Scripture bar none. Reinforce your expository preaching with good, viable cross-referencing. By the way topical and devotional preaching are often called for in many situations. Expository preaching isn’t the only way to preach. Make your preaching powerful through Scripture memory.