Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I turned thirty in February and that was a hard pill to swallow. I had been noticing lately that I’ve not been hearing people comment about how “fantastic it is to see a young person preach the old time Gospel…” as much I used to. Thirty? I was on the team which planed our classes ten year reunion (the irony of that I’ll share some other time…) and all of us felt the same…we’re way to cool and young to be thirty. I’ve been in pastoral ministry for about ten years now! I began this illustrious career as a part time youth pastor (yeah, more irony) when I was twenty. It’s been a roller coaster ever since full of “trial and error” I assure you. I’m like a real life Forest Gump. I intended to sit down and write out the most significant lessons I’ve learned in the ten years I’ve been serving in pastoral ministry back when I actually turned thirty…but like I said, that was February and as most of you know…I was living in a cave and everything was super hectic with the parsonage. So I never got around to it…but I think I need to come up with it and publish it. It’s weird…but I actually now know a couple guys younger than me in the struggle (very weird) and maybe it will make them think or even be helpful to them in some way. It was helpful to me to articulate it. The first lesson is the most significant one to me…the rest are in no particular order. These are the things I’ve picked up on in my first ten years of pastoral ministry:

· The Gospel is not the side dish. Jesus is the reigning King over all creation. He saves and forgives sinners and molds them into His likeness totally and utterly apart from the assistance or cooperation of the sinner. From start to finish, everything is about that Gospel. It’s not the side dish or just one of many topics to be discussed…it’s the only topic.

· All churches say they care about the lost, most don’t know how, some actually just don’t care.

· A passionate hunger for and irenic approach to Church history (all of it, not just post-Reformation) is vitally important. Seeking to understand and remember the suffering, the doctrinal struggles, moral failures and moral victories in our family history gives a mature perspective on my suffering, doctrinal struggles, moral failures and moral victories. We are wasting far too much energy trying to reinvent the wheel.

· Wisdom, not zeal, is the most important characteristic in a leader. If you empower a zealous person who is not wise you will pay severely.

· Never put yourself or allow yourself to be put into a position where you need clarify what you really meant by something you said. Being cavalier with your authenticity might seem cool, hip, ‘relevant’ and fresh…but that attitude can be used like a ball bat on you if someone wants to hurt you. I must resist wearing my heart on my sleeve (which is no small task for me).

· Naomi can make or break me, no one on earth is more important to my health than her. I wish I would have better understood that years ago…I hope I never forget it.

· The key to church growth and health is reaching and discipling young men. Not marketing or mailers, young men. Not youth or music, young men. Period. Most churches are scared to death by and made very uncomfortable by “real men” and do all they can to neuter “real men” in order to make them nice, polite, tender, mild, boys (just look at how we instruct little boys and teenage boys…). Most churches are perfectly set up and decorated to reach 35-40 year old women…and their children…and most of the men stay home. If we win the young men we win the women, children, money, resources, energy, creativity, passion and leadership. Plus if we win the young men we won’t need to hire people to mow the lawn or plow the drive. Start by reaching the men (don’t suppress your masculinity on Sunday, think about men when picking the décor, men are inspired by preaching and bored by bland talks and men don’t particularly care to sing sappy prom songs or sappy hymns to another man…even if it’s the Godman…ect.) and then provide ministries needed to care for their wives or girlfriends (soon to be wives if you truly reach these men) and children.

· Pastors whine too much. I whine too much. Read the Bible and then read Church history and then go visit voice of the martyrs and then repent and then shut up. I guess our whining is giving the real men headaches.

· I love the Southern Baptist Convention. I really do. Yeah we’ve got some crazy uncles in the bunch who say crazy stuff from time to time. What I love is that we are not a denomination…we are cooperation. There is a difference. And I love the SBC heart for missions. Despite our sudden spasms of fundamentalistic fits from time to time, the bottom line is spreading the Gospel at home and abroad and Southern Baptists put their money where their mouths are. I’ve see it faithfully demonstrated month after month first hand and I will always be grateful and will always defend my SBC.

· Pastors are foolish sinners saved only by grace alone, through personal faith alone in Jesus alone…don’t kid yourself. They’d all burn in hell forever if they got what they deserved. They are just people and their wives are just people. You'll end up very hurt at some point if you don’t get that.


Jeremy Schweyer said...

Good work as usual. You forgot, however, point # 11 - Always give high-five's...LOL. Great wisdom and good insight you ol' fart.

irreverend fox said...

thanks Jeremy! I wondered why you only give me high fives...what are you saying?

Jeremy Schweyer said...

Read between the!