I’ve only been a pastor for a little over six months, but I can already sense a large change in my perspective on the way I perceive other ministries.
To give you a little background, in my early to mid-20’s I was one of those guys that spent hours on online message boards debating theology, ministry, and many other ivory tower issues. During that time I was slowly getting more and more plugged into my local church. Without hesitation I would argue that those years wrestling through those issues helped me to grow spiritually and prepared me for ministry. At the same time, I can only imagine how critical 22 year old me would be of my current ministry.
Looking back at 22 year old me, it was very strange to think of all the black and white convictions I had as an uneducated, low level volunteer who wasn’t giving regularly, responsible for anything substantial, or attempting to understand why people did things different than my ideal Utopian church.
I think the key difference between 22 year old internet me and 28 year old pastor me is that: internet me looked at issues independent of one another and pastor me looks at issues in the context of the whole ministry.
When I was the internet guy, I had strong convictions about worship music (I still have strong convictions about worship music). I would argue with people about how man-centered so many songs were, and how we should never sing them ever again. I think some of those songs have made their way into rotation in my current student ministry. I’m sure some of that is due to my views softening a bit, but really, in and of myself, I wouldn’t choose those songs.
What changed? In the past I evaluated worship music based off of the songs. My highest value was making sure the song met certain lyrical standards I had. Now when I look at our worship ministry, my primary concern is the people on stage and the people in the audience. Because of that I still value singing songs with more meaty content (because our songs teach), but I also value equipping and empowering the next generation of leaders. If I’m slowly allowing our student leaders to make decisions, sometimes they’re going to make decisions I don’t like.
- Being able to preach one good sermon in your life does not mean you can write and preach multiple good sermons each week
- Planning out a preaching calendar is a different skill set than writing a sermon
- I don’t have nearly as much confidence in my “great” ideas when these ideas start touching actual lives. When my decisions affect lives, I start asking for some advice and turning to people.
- Words hurt. The criticisms I wrote 5 years ago would hurt the people I was writing about. If I found someone writing similar criticisms about me, that would carry a HUGE emotional toll on me. That
I still have criticisms of other ministries, but I think I’m coming from a more understanding position.