10 Things I Wished I’d Done as a Young Pastor

I’ve written previously about my lessons learned as a young pastor (here, here, and here), but I’m thinking today about things I wish I had done back then. Here are several of them:

  1. Go on an overseas mission trip. I didn’t take my first missions trip until several years into my ministry. That means that I really didn’t challenge my church to think much about missions until much later than I should have.
  2. Find a mentor.  I didn’t even know the term “mentor” back then. And, had I known the word, I probably would have given up too easily on finding a mentor if one didn’t respond quickly.
  3. Travel across my state. Even a day long road trip could have helped me see that my little world in southwestern Ohio hardly reflected the world – it didn’t even reflect much of my state!
  4. Take more regular days off. My failure to take days off more than 30 years ago has led to the same problem now. I don’t take off enough time to relax, clear my mind, and prepare to go back to the grind.
  5. Set boundaries for counseling. I assumed my job was to counsel every member until he or she overcome the problem. Consequently, I had no sense of the need to refer people, and I spent far too much time counseling.
  6. Enlist an accountability partner. I had nobody, so I lived in too much defeat over my sin.
  7. Engage older pastors. Of the multiple older pastors in my community, I knew only one – and that was because our church wanted to use their church’s baptistery. I missed out because I ignored older, wiser leaders.   
  8. Schedule at least one day per month to fast. I didn’t learn that discipline until a couple of decades into my ministry. 
  9. Exercise regularly. Because I didn’t do it then, I now have to work harder at it to try to stay in shape.
  10. Read the news every day. This many years later, I now know that an uninformed pastor isn’t the best equipped pastor. 

What do you wish you had done when you were a young pastor? 

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