What I’ve Learned in Three Years of Ministry

This weekend marks my third year in full-time vocational ministry. Fully acknowledging that I’m still a ministry newbie, here’s a few things I’ve learned thus far:

Nothing prepares you for ministry.

In seminary I learned about finding Jesus in the Old Testament. I learned about church history and how denominations were established. I learned about multiple methods for crafting a sermon. What I did not learn in seminary was how time consuming ministry can be for a family. I did not learn what to say to a student whose parents had kicked them out of the house. I did not learn what to do when you get a call on your day off informing you that a parent had committed suicide. I’m not dismissing seminary—I gained valuable knowledge during my formal ministry training, but having a seminary degree doesn’t mean you’re prepared for ministry (like I naively thought it would).

People > Programs

I’m still figuring this out. It’s my biggest struggle in ministry. I am naturally drawn to content, creativity, methodologies, mission statements, systems, etc. I think it’s a mixture of a semi-creative mind and a business school background, though I’m not completely sure. To be certain, I think those things are really important—content matters, our creativity is a reflection of God’s creativity, systems are necessary—but those things are secondary. Jesus didn’t die for a teaching series, slick visual graphics, or the aesthetics of a building—Jesus died for people. I am constantly having to ask God to reorient my focus to the people He loves and died for.

I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Despite the ups, the downs, the complaints, the frustrations, the wins, the losses, the mistakes, the feelings of inadequacy, the early mornings and the late nights, I can’t imagine doing anything other than ministry. My hope and prayer is that by God’s grace I’ll have a long and fruitful tenure in full-time vocational ministry. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Advertisements

What Do You Dream Of?

I’m generally not one to walk around with my head in the clouds; I’m far too much of a realist (aka pessimist) for that. But just for the sake of conversation, here’s a question for you: What do you dream of? I’m not talking about those “post-late-night-mexican-food” dreams. I mean aspirations, goals, the type of dreams that keep you going even on your worst days?

About two years ago Kelli and I took a weekend vacation just to get out of town. I remember on the drive up we took a sheet of paper and wrote down some of our dreams and goals in life. I still have that paper stuck to the inside cover of my journal, so I thought I’d take a chance and share a few of my dreams with you (as long as you promise not to laugh).

Write a book.
I love to read—which makes me want to write. Obviously, I write on this blog. I’ve also been fortunate enough to write some articles for 1798 Magazine. But I really I want to write a book. I have no idea what I would write a book on, but I know at least two people would read it. Thanks Kelli and mom.

Earn my doctorate.
In all fairness, having a child changed my perspective on this one a bit. I’m not willing to exchange precious moments with my children for a couple of letters before my name, but maybe someday down the road I’ll have the time (and money…crossing my fingers) to pursue that doctorate degree.

Plant/pastor a church.
I know these are two very different animals (and by animals, I mean that both can maul you and potentially leave you with some nasty scars.) Nevertheless, if I’m honest, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of planting or pastoring a church someday. Also, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remember that I am far too inexperienced and unwise to plant or pastor a church. Maybe someday.

Build a house.
This is at the pinnacle of my list. I’m a family guy, so very few things make me more excited than dreaming of designing and building a place for my family to laugh, cry, play, fight, eat, sleep and make memories together.

What about  you? What do you dream of? Do you dream at all? If not, you really should.