Though I'm still on a pastoral staff, I'm no longer serving as a full-time pastor. I suspect that distance now makes me more willing to critique my 14 years as a senior pastor, beginning as a 20-year-old in 1981.
In an effort to help other young pastors avoid my errors, here are only some of the ways I didn't pastor well in those days:
- I wasn't visionary enough. I'm generally a detailed person, and I let that tendency get in the way of casting a vision for the church.
- I didn't always listen to lay leaders who knew better than I did. Looking back, I can now see some decisions I made that would have been wiser had I listened to my lay leaders.
- I didn't raise up new leaders. I'm not even sure I knew I was supposed to at the time, but my failure to do so resulted in baby Christians who remained infants too long.
- I loved my church, but I always had my eyes on opportunities yet to come. That meant that I wasn't always fully invested in the people right around me.
- I wasn't disciplined in my own quiet time. To be honest, I led out of my own strength and built a crowd around my perceived speaking ability.
- I was too afraid of conflict. I didn't know how to handle it if someone got angry with me, so I worked overtime to avoid conflict in general.
- I didn't know how to say "no" to requests. I still struggle with this issue, frankly, now almost 40 years into ministry.
- I functioned on too little knowledge of the Bible. I didn't know how to study it, and I didn't learn it well in those days.
- I didn't collaborate well as a leader. Instead, I led on my own and seldom invited others into important discussions—which also meant that I bore the brunt of responsibility when my plans failed.
- I waited too long to ask for help when I was overwhelmed. In fact, it was stomach ulcers that forced me to ask my laypersons to help me. That's late.
Pastors, help our younger readers. What's the primary way you didn't pastor well as a young pastor?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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