In my second pastorate, I stayed at the church for just over eleven years. At the time, more than a decade at one church was almost unheard of. I’ve paid attention since then to pastors who stay at their church for at least ten years, and here are some traits I’ve seen in these pastors:
- They cannot deny their calling to that church. In some cases, the calling was so dramatic that the pastors could not ignore it. In other cases, the calling itself was not so dramatic – but the pastors know in their hearts that they are where God wants them to be.
- They learn not to get focused on the loud, but few, voices. Veteran pastors have learned that the opposition may be louder than it is widespread. Loud voices often die down when they learn they have little support.
- They build a strong team around them. A great staff and strong, supportive lay leaders are usually enough to keep pastors focused even when difficulties develop.
- They leave work at the church as much as possible. Ministry is not an 8-5 job, of course, but these pastors have learned how to let their burdens go as much as possible when they come home.
- They make sure they’re serving through their giftedness. That is, they do whatever they most love to do in ministry while not neglecting tasks that don’t bring them as much joy.
- They love to preach the Word. It’s amazing how many headaches go away when a preacher gets to preach the Word – and that responsibility comes around again every weekend.
- They realize that many conflicts are temporary. The fire that seems so large and hot today is often gone tomorrow as long as you don’t keep fueling it.
- They live in the Word and pray a lot. That sounds far too basic, but it’s reality: pastors who are faithful in their spiritual disciplines don’t give up easily. They keep an eternal focus on their work.
- They put wise boundaries around their life. They don’t make dumb choices that make them vulnerable to sin. They have accountability in their lives. Their tenure in one church is connected to their commitment to godly living.
- They learn to laugh in ministry. The work of ministry is intense, but it’s often funny, too. When pastors stop laughing, they’ve lost some of the joy that compels them to stay faithful.
What other traits would you add to this list?