10 Things I Would Do Less Often if I Were Pastoring Again

Yesterday, I posted about some things I would do more often if I were serving as a pastor again. Today, here are some things I would do less often: 

  1. Counsel. I’m not a trained counselor, and there are options for Christian counseling today that weren’t readily available 35+ years ago. I would still counsel when necessary, but I’d much more quickly refer folks to trained counselors.  

  1. Worry. At least, I hope I would worry less. This many years later, I’ve learned that many of the things I worried about then (e.g., a disagreement with someone, decreased attendance for the week, etc.) work themselves out if we remain faithful.  

  1. Spend hours in a hospital room. I often spent entire days in the hospital when members were having surgery. I’d still visit the patient and family, but I wouldn’t always stay the day. Many families are comfortable with the pastor praying with the patient prior to surgery and then later checking on him or her.   

  1. Lead a small group long-term. In both churches I pastored, I taught a Sunday school class at different points of my ministry. Were I to do it again, I would teach only short-term classes to free me up for sermon preparation.  

  1. Expect perfection from others. To be honest, I was so focused on everything going well because my name was on it that I harmed some relationships. I didn’t realize the importance of helping believers grow in their own ministries and abilities.  

  1. Complain. I didn’t do it publicly, but I complained privately. Even the few people who heard my rants didn’t grow through them, I'm certain. I suspect they only saw me as a complainer who spoke behind the backs of others.  

  1. Imitate others in preaching. All of us have our preaching heroes we want to emulate. Because I so focused on that goal, it took me longer to grow comfortable with my own preaching style.  

  1. Lead monthly business meetings. My churches had scheduled business meetings each month. I now know that a well-structured church with leadership and accountability usually doesn’t need to meet monthly. I would meet no more than once per quarter unless emergency needs arose.  

  1. Preach when sick. I seldom missed a Sunday when I was scheduled to preach (I once preached within ten days of having an emergency hernia repair—because I didn’t want to let the church down). Even so, I now wonder how many people I made sick when I preached despite my illnesses.  

  1. Strive for denominational position and recognition. Sometimes you learn over time that what seemed so important when you were young doesn’t mean so much when you’re older.  

What would you do less if you were starting over again?   


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