It’s so easy to compare ourselves as pastors. Who has the bigger church? The larger salary? The better building? …and the list goes on. If you think any of those things make for a better pastor, you’re fooling yourself. The Bible warns us that those “…measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV).
However, God wants you to be a better you. That’s called growth and maturity. Being better at something is a good thing. Comparing yourself to others is not.
We are in a series entitled, “Better.” Each of us can improve and grow. Today I’m going to share some ways we can be better as pastors.
It’s hard to believe that I have been a pastor for some 38 years. Looking back, there are a number of things I wish I could have done differently.
1. Listen More
In my younger days, I thought my opinion mattered most. Often times I was reactive when challenged. I now know listening better would have made me a better pastor. Listening is a way of investing in others. It finds out what others are thinking and feeling.
“Listening is an act of respect; it connotes that one individual cares enough about another to listen to what he or she has to say. And so when there is no listening there is no respect.” – John Baldoni
Slowing down and hearing from others would have built more trust and teamwork. There were times in ministry that I was so bent on getting things done (my way), that I failed to really listen. I’m sorry about that. The Bible is very clear that we are to be “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19).
2. Love More
You can’t minister to people you don’t love. Every pastor can go through the motions: preach a sermon, call on the sick, run a meeting; however, loving others can’t be faked. Real love is felt. It shows up in our actions, even our tone of voice.
“God teaches us to love by putting some unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving to you.” – Rick Warren
To be honest, sometimes my love waned. People disappointed me (and I disappointed them). Looking back, I should have been more understanding and loving, even with those who were frustrating and draining. I wish I simply enjoyed, loved and accepted people more.
3. Lean more
Ministry is a spiritual battle. As a young pastor, I thought if I worked hard, everything would work out! After all, in college and seminary, if I did all my homework and studied hard for my tests, I’d get that “A!” Yeah! I thought the same was true in ministry, but it wasn’t. While working hard helps, I needed to rely more on God. Too many times I trusted in my own strength, rather than God’s strength. I needed to pray more and trust more!
Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
There is nothing that I’ve done in my own strength that will remain and be fruitful for the kingdom. It’s only what God has done through and in me that is eternal.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Pastoring is a high calling. It is also a tough calling. None of us are perfect. We are human and fragile, just like everyone else. With God’s grace, we can be better pastors. What are some things you think can help you be a better pastor?