Lessons on being a minister 1

I’ve been a minister for 10 years now so thought I might
post a couple of blogs about being a minister, this one being general
reflections and the next one on moving from a ‘smaller’ to a ‘larger’ church. Then,
if I get the time, I might blog some more about specific points over the
summer. So in no particular order (and some not entirely thought through):

    1. The
      most important things in church life are the ones it is hardest to measure.
    2. Because
      ministry is about ‘who you are’ not ‘what you do’ most criticism about
      your ministry ends up being personal in some form.
    3. Different
      churches need different types of minister (or more accurately ministers
      with gifts in various different aspects of ministry): work with your
      strengths and focus on what is needed in this situation. And if you can,
      avoid being called to a church which needs you do prioritise aspects that
      you dislike!
    4. There
      is always more to do than there is time to do it. You have a
      responsibility for managing your time, no one else is going to do it for
    5. Ministry
      is draining spiritually, emotionally and physically. Of the three I’ve
      come to recognise the emotional drain rather late but it is probably the
      one which takes the biggest toll on me.
    6. People
      in church worry about being vulnerable or up to the task when they are
      approached to do something in church. Recognise that whilst you feel like
      that most of the time, it will not help them for you to point this out!
      Likewise if they grumble about being put out by something.
    7. No
      matter how brilliant church is someone will always complain about the
      quality of relationships in the church, the mission effort and the
      standard of communication.
    8. There
      is always a balance between seeking to build consensus, allowing everyone
      to have their say and robustly setting out the way forward. With the
      benefit of hindsight I have nearly always been too diffident and swayed by
      other people and rarely too strident and dictatorial.
    9. If
      there is no connection between what you believe about God, Church and
      Ministry you will be condemned to picking up techniques from others based
      on ‘what works for them’. You need to know why as well as what to do.
    10. In
      one survey 70% of ministers said they had thought of resigning. I reckon
      the other 30% were lying. But being a minister is the best calling in the
      world. Who else gets to be involved in seeing people’s lives re-orientated
      towards God, spending their life as foundational brick in Christ’s body
      and giving all their best energy to giving God glory?
  • 2 thoughts on “Lessons on being a minister 1

    Add yours

    1. Interesting and insightful Neil. In my experience, what you have here works just as well for leaders in secular organisations if you substitute ‘leader’ for ‘minister’ and ‘beliefs’ for ‘values’. The main difference for me is that I would hope in the Christian context the motivation is God’s kingdom whereas too often the motivation in the secular world is personal power (or might that be true for some in the Christian World too?!)


    2. Hi Jane, it is interesting to note the way that a number of books have taken the work that John Adair, Steven Covey and others have done and sought to apply it to church life: there is a minor publishing empire encouraging ‘transformational leadership’ in churches. I’m sure that there are many cross over points. Where we need care is in remembering what sort of entity church is. Certainly the dymanics of church will reflect a pattern that is seen in other human movements and institutions, but beyond those human atributes it is the body of Christ.

      Hi Craig, ‘best’ was sloppy language on my part. ‘High or noble’ might have been better. I’m not wanting to suggest that God doesn’t call people to a variety of activities and vocations (each of which might be best for that person) but I am wanting to say that ordained ministry is a calling to be valued, affirmed and encouraged.


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