Finding Out What I Didn't Learn
The seminary experience is a good one for a person who has been called by God into the ministry. But, the seminary does not teach a person how to be the Pastor of a church. It helps you with language, theological positions, history, and various other things applicable to the ministry but it does not show a person much about how to pastor a church and function properly.
The information which follows is a compilation of things that, if a young man were to inculcate them early into his ministry, will make for a more productive and fulfilling experience. They will also help him to properly lead God’s people in the coming years. The overarching issue is that one has to Find Out What they Didn't Learn. It is a life work and cannot be produced without dedication and great effort.
Things I needed to know but was not taught in the seminary.
- Keep Yourself Fresh.
- Read a variety of things...read when you don't feel like reading.
- Study when you don't want to. Study when you feel the driest, and you will find that it will refresh you.
- Don't ever stop reading the Bible. Read it more than you read things about the Bible.
- Surround yourself with great people. Get to know those who are doing something.
- Learn from...
- Great Expositors
- Great Administrators
- Great pastors
- Truly GREAT men will share themselves with you.
- Don't be intimidated by great men; they are human too and the truly great men don't know they are.
- Learn from...
- Set Goals; don't just drift through the ministry.
- Decide where you want to go.
- Set goals which will achieve your ultimate objective.
- If you don't know where you are trying to go, then you won't know when you get there.
- Work; Work; Work!!!
- Make yourself accountable in some way to someone.
- God's work suffers because of lazy preachers and staff people.
- Most preachers could not survive in the corporate world. They have gotten spoiled living in a little sub-culture known as "the ministry."
- Set yourself some office hours, and live by a set of disciplined rules.
- Demand the same of your staff.
- People will respect you as the Pastor and as a professional.
- Don't waver in your convictions.
- If you do, then you will be forever fighting that battle. Ground given up is twice as hard to gain again. Don't ever give up ground where your convictions are concerned.
- No one respects one who is unstable; they will not follow them for very long.
- Remember this little law: Proverbs 3:25-26
If you have done nothing which is immoral, unethical or illegal then in thirty (30) days or less you will not be concerned with whatever it is that you think is about to destroy you.
- "Sudden fear" is fear which is brought on by satan. It is not grounded in anything you have done. It is for the purpose of frightening you into inaction.
- Whatever satan uses to bring "sudden fear" upon you is the one thing you don't have to fear.
- Keep in mind: You are not the Pastor simply because you were called to preach at a certain church.
- The position of Pastor must be earned. It is a "trust" position.
- One can be the preacher the first Sunday, but they will not be the Pastor for 8-10 years.
- When you become Pastor then you can do just about anything that tried to do when you went to the church. Don't try to leave your mark too soon. Take nine months to a year to learn the "lay of the land."
- You don't become Pastor in one or two years so don't let your "sugar stick" sermons determine the length of your stay. In other words...don't have a "sugar stick" tenure.
- Long pastorates produce genuine, long lasting results for the Kingdom.
- Don't counsel single or married women by yourself.
- You may never even consider doing anything improper but give yourself insurance by having a system to verify your actions.
- The person you are counseling may never do one thing out of the way, but those people on the outside may concoct their own story about why that person is seeing you. Be able to verify your actions.
- Be smart enough to "head the devil off at the pass." Don't let him trap you. Many good men have lost their ministry because they could not prove that a charge was untrue.
- Be sure that you don't become addicted to television. It will steal away your most productive hours.
- Remember this important fact; you are in the ministry to serve God and His People. You are not in the ministry to serve yourself. Make sure you do not begin to evaluate everything based on how it will affect you. Serving Jesus with a Divine Call makes your personal desires incidental.
- Remember..all of your people are volunteers!! They are not paid for even one thing. They serve God because they love Him.
- You are a leader not a dictator. People are not pawns.
- They don't have to do one thing or even come to your church...appreciate them!
- Stay away from the money!! Satan uses money and sex to destroy many ministers.
- Set up a proper finance system to handle all the funds.
- People will, from time to time, forgive a minister where a sexual indiscretion is concerned. It is rare but it can happen if the man is repentant and gets proper counseling. But, the people will not forgive him where their money is concerned.
- Don't investigate who gives and who doesn't. It will hinder your ability to minister to everyone, and it will tend to make you favor certain people who give well.
- When your preach, preach the Word. as the infallible and inerrant Word of God.
- Preach solid, conservative expository messages from the Biblical text. This will allow you to touch every human topic without being accused of preaching to someone or some particular situation.
- Preaching is the hardest work you will do, or at least it should be.
- Your people will forgive a multitude of shortcomings but they will not easily forget poor preparation and preaching. They need and desire the Word and you are their spokesman from God.
- Pray that you will FINISH WELL! Strive to FINISH WELL. How sad to see men who have had a good ministry fail to finish well because of some slip-up late in their ministry. Learn to be more careful and protective of your ministry the nearer you come to its conclusion.
The aforementioned points are from an address delivered by Wm. F. Harrell to the student body of Southeastern Seminary.
William F. Harrell