Ten Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me 15 Years Ago

I have been a pastor for about 15 years now and it has mostly been a fantastic journey with some of the best people on the planet. I did not attend seminary or have much formal training when I started out, but I sure wish someone had told me these ten things in the beginning.

1. Sheep bites can’t kill me, but the gnawing will make life miserable a few days each year.

2. No matter how hard I try, I will always be tempted to measure my success by attendance numbers.

3. The best thing I can do to build and grow God’s kingdom is to be myself and not compare myself to others.

4. It takes a long time to become old friends so nurture and cherish the old friendships God has given me.

5. I will only have as much spiritual authority as I am willing to submit to myself. Independence will destroy me but there is power in submission.

6. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Challenge people to go deeper even when the message is unpopular.

7. My brain will always feel like scrambled eggs on Sunday afternoon so don’t make any major decisions until Tuesday morning.

8. Some people will only trust you after a really long time of proving yourself and another group will never trust you no matter what you do.

9. Don’t feel guilty about taking a Sabbath. It was not a suggestion.

10. I will never regret spending time with my family instead of saying yes to a church meeting that someone else could lead.

I hope this is helpful to other young leaders who are launching out into ministry. What are some of things you wish someone had told you before you started ministry in the local church?

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  1. Great list. 3, 4 & 6 particularly resonate with me.

  2. Pastors must guard their time with their family. It is very easy to find yourself so busy trying to please others and be a success that your family suffers and burnout ensues. It can happen before you realize it.

  3. Make the hard decision when you are faced with it. Don’t string it along or avoid it just because you don’t want to deal with the fallout right then. If you wait, you’ll have to deal with way more issues that are spawned because of NOT making it. The original issue won’t go away, it will just keep affecting more and more people… then you’ll have to deal with it being their issue, too.

  4. Thanks for the word and because of you sharing things like this maybe this young preacher won’t have to wait fifteen years.

  5. Brady, We have met on several occasions at the Connect Conference at Gateway. I always enjoy hearing you speak and I appreciate you willingness to share your heart. I’ll be in Colorado in November (around Thanksgiving) if you’re home at that time of the year, I’d love to stop in and visit.

  6. The pain and rejection of ministering to someone and loving them, later to see them fall away, is something you cannot avoid.

    If you reach lost people, they are much more likely to listen and follow your advice than transfer membership.

    You must win your family; if you can’t win them, what are you doing tell OTHER people about Jesus?

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this. I am copying it and posting on my blog, directing folks here to gain more insight from you.

    My husband and I were church planters, but now serve on staff at an established church in WA State. Having been in vocational ministry about the same time as you, I wish folks would have shared these insights with us as we started out in ministry.


  8. As a small new church, don’t try and do things the way a larger church would. Small church plants have very different dynamics than larger churches do. In the beginning it’s all hands on deck and some of our “ideals” may have to be temporarily compromised for what is most practical and workable.

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