I’ve always been one to seek out people who are more experienced than me for advice.
When I was a sixth grader, I looked up to the high schoolers in my church with great respect. I would pester them with things like, “Here is the downlow on the girl I like… what do I do from here??”
In late middle school when I began to feel that I was called to ministry, I first emailed my aunt who is a UMC pastor and then talked with others who had been on the same journey before I shared it with friends.
Throughout highschool I had breakfast with the leaders of my youth group once a week at Ms. Winners Chicken and Biscuits. There, I threw all of my life questions at three men who were willing to listen and shoot me straight.
A few weeks back, some people invited me to play volleyball with them. I hadn’t played in years so I watched volleyball tutorials on Youtube for about an hour before I went.
Now, I’m a pastor. So naturally I’ve been asking older pastors for advice as I begin on this path.
Fortunately for me, each July I get to spend a week with pastors from all over the nation at Salem Campmeeting. Last I heard, there are currently 25 people in ordained ministry who claim that Salem Campmeeting played a defining role in their Christian life. Plus, there are always two great pastors who share the duty of preaching the 12+ services during the week.
Some of the pastors I get to spend time with every year serve at mega-churches. Some teach at schools of theology. Some serve multiple rural churches. Some pastor churches like the one down the street from your house. And some have spent a great deal of time with the global church. These pastors are Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists — a neapolitan assortment.
This year when I spent the week at campmeeting, after working as a pastor for only 2 weeks, I solicited wisdom from these older and wiser pastors.
I asked each of them, “What one piece of advice would you give to a young pastor?” Here’s what I heard:
1. Always remember that God calls you to be faithful, not “successful.”
2. Don’t be lazy.
3. Find someone to hold you truly accountable and ask you questions like: How is your soul? What are you filling your heart and mind with? How are you, really?
3. Remember that it is about the Kingdom of God, not the church.
4. Seek to do the will of God in all things.
5. Trust that God will use your appointment that comes through the Bishop.
6. Love your people well.
7. Don’t be so busy working at the church and talking about Jesus that you forget to be in a relationship with Jesus.
Veteran pastors, what would you add to this list?
Veteran church-goers, what would you add?
Non-Christians, what would you add?