Pastoral Ministry

People Skills & the Pastor

Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Mar/Apr 2013.

I was talking to a young pastor recently, and after our lengthy conversation I commented on his wisdom and warmth. I told him many pastors fail in regards to dealing with people (something we often refer to as people skills). When I said this, the young pastor was surprised and asked me to elaborate further. So I provided him some specific sad examples of ungracious pastors and their interpersonal blunders. At the close of our conversation, he said something quite profound: “That’s so strange. Why would you become a pastor if you don’t love people?”

That young pastor asked a great question which summarizes the basis of pastoral interpersonal skills…love. Love is the bottom-line way to define people skills. And the pastor’s life must be characterized by love in the same way that Jesus’ life was characterized by love.

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2000 Sermons, 25 Years - Some Observations (Part 2)

Having reached, by the grace of God, the milestone of 25 years of pastoral ministry and 2000+ sermons, I am writing here a few things I have learned along the way. The first post was things I have learned about preaching.

My pastoral ministry has included serving in three different churches over a 25 year period. In the first I served as a youth pastor for 4 years. I served in the second as the senior pastor for 9 1/2 years and have been senior pastor at my current church for 11 1/2 years. Here are some things I have learned about ministry and churches. There are many observations that I could make. These are some that stand out to me, with minimal explanation. Each paragraph is a separate observation, in no particular order.

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2000 Sermons, 25 Years - Some Observations (Part 1)

My filing system shows that I recently preached my 2000th sermon. This year I will complete 25 years of pastoral ministry. Praise God for His grace. I want to write down some of the things I have learned along the way. I think I’ll do it in 3-4 separate posts, including what I have learned about preaching, about ministry and churches, about people, and about God.

Here are some things I have learned about preaching, in no particular order.

Preparing and preaching a sermon is like having a baby. You labor over it for many hours, sometimes right up until the minute you start speaking, and then it is born. If you’ve prepared diligently, something good will come out. It isn’t always pretty, but it has potential.

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Every Pastor is a POET

From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Summer, 2014). Used by permission.

What exactly is the pastor’s job? Some churches expect their pastor to speak 20 times a month. Another church demands only three sermons each month. In some churches, the pastor cannot delegate the setting of the temperature on the thermostat. Different churches go to the other extreme and require the pastor to preach and do not let him do anything else.

One pastor took a survey of his church members to find out what their expectations were for how he spent his time. One person put down more hours than there are in a week for the pastor’s average work week.

While tradition plays a role in understanding what a pastor’s job description happens to be, it is the Bible that should prescribe the details of the pastor’s job. God has designed the office of pastor, elder, or overseer. If churches are out of balance or are missing some of what is needed, they will suffer loss in their ministry. The acronym POET is a helpful learning device for remembering what the Bible teaches about the pastor’s role in the local church.

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