I pastored a normative size church in Indiana for 8 years. It was revitalization work, and by all outward appearances, it was successful. We grew from 50-160. But looking back, there are several things I would have done differently. Here are ten.
- Value relationships over progress.
I certainly built (and still have) many solid relationships while pastoring. But at times, I was more focused on “building” the church and vision than people.
Sometimes you can do both, but often you’ll have to choose.
- Take two days off per week.
For some reason, I didn’t count Sunday as a workday, even though I was often working all morning and night.
I worked Sun-Fri for several years. In fact, I remember thinking, I stop work at 4pm on Friday and start up again 8 pm Saturday.
If I could do it over again, I would take every Friday and Saturday off. That’s what I do now, and I love it.
I work hard Sun-Thurs. but I really rest on those two days. Doing this prepares me to work again. I almost burnt out of ministry completely, largely due to fatigue.
- I wouldn’t put so much pressure on myself.
Results determined my whole life. What was attendance? How many are in groups? What’s the budget? How many volunteers?
It’s exhausting. I am so glad to be free from that. Now, I want to faithful and do things with excellence.
- I’d say no more often.
I’m a sucker for opportunity. When a new thing presents itself, and appears to be worth my time, I have trouble saying no.
Add on top of that, I felt like I had to produce lots of results. This, combined with working all the time, made me tired.
- I would be more understanding of people’s feelings.
This is hard for me. I am rational and logical (I think). When people let their emotions rule, it frustrates me. But I need to be more understanding and gracious.
- I would delegate more.
I will never forget one my seminary professor’s telling me, “Brandon, someone else should make the coffee.”
He was right! I should have also let them open the building, run the technology, buy supplies, etc. I did too much, and that’s on me.
- I would visit more with people.
I was often too busy doing the work of the ministry to visit with people. But people ARE the ministry. Time with them is what it’s all about.
- I would read more during “work” hours.
I read a lot for sermon prep. But I rarely read during work hours for personal development.
I don’t know why but I always felt like that should be done on my own time. When I was at work, I needed to produce.
- I would exercise and eat healthy.
I did not do either during my entire 8 years as lead pastor. The Lord only knows how this affected me and my job.
Today, I do both–and it’s a game changer in how it effects my energy and mood.
- I would do fewer ministries and focus on excellence.
I alluded to this already, but if I were to do it over again, I’d do less…but better. For years, I wanted volume. Today I want quality.
Let me know if this resonates with you. What would you do differently?
I will have a post soon on top ten mistakes I made in my ministry, but it will be in my newsletter. You can sign up for it here. Follow me