Sam Storms, the lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, has written a fascinating blog post reflecting on nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry.
I’m not sure I full subscribe to everything he has written – for example I would fully subscribe to women being fully involved in church leadership. But there’s a lot of gold in this article – a few highlights that resonated for me:
1. I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.
3. I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them.
6. I wish I’d known how vital it is to understand yourself and to be both realistic and humble regarding what you find. Don’t be afraid to be an introvert or extrovert (or some mix of the two). Be willing to take steps to compensate for your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people unlike you, who make up for your deficiencies and challenge you in healthy ways to be honest about what you can and cannot do.
10. I wish I’d known about the destructive effects of insecurity in a pastor. This is less because I’ve struggled with it and more due to its effect I’ve seen in others. Why is insecurity so damaging?