Reflections on Christian Living and Church Leadership from an Older Pastor and Professor: Part 1

Just a few days ago (August 18), I celebrated the day the Lord saved me and called me to preach 48 years ago. I actually started pastoring seven years later at age 20. This week, I’ve been reflecting on all these years—so I am using this week’s posts to share my thoughts. Please add your own reflections in the comments section so we might continue to learn from each other. 

  1. All of us have a place in the Body of Christ, and all of us are responsible for being faithful—but none of us is God’s gift to the kingdom. I was arrogant enough to believe the latter as a 20-year-old pastor, but I’ve learned much since then. I know now that all of us are important in God’s work, but none of us is irreplaceable. God’s church and God’s work go on without us—even when we in demonized pride are convinced otherwise.
  2. There’s a reason Paul mandates that new converts not be pastors/elders (1 Tim 3:6). See #1 above for my own sinful example. I was not a new convert, but I was certainly so green and undiscipled that I was not ready for the task. That God worked through my ministry at all in those years – and He did – was solely because of His grace. I surely wish I had recognized that fact back then. 
  3. Some things that seemed so clear when I was a young pastor forty years ago aren’t always so clear now. Please hear me: I am NOT suggesting that somehow years of experience lead us to compromise the inerrant, sufficient, and clear Word. What I am suggesting is that sometimes my zealous, youthful legalism back then missed the gospel that the Bible proclaims. 
  4. It’s easy to get “amens” from the congregation when you’re preaching against somebody else’s sin; it’s not so easy to see the beam in our own eye. It’s easy to blast pornography while lust resides in our own heart, to preach against others who don’t sacrifice when our own giving is only out of our excess, to condemn non-loving husbands when we may not want our spouses to describe reality in our homes. We simply have to deal with our beams. 
  5. Worship style preferences are often just that—preferences – and they change with the seasons of life. I attended a church during my teen years that sang only hymns. They were new and exciting to me, even if I sometimes wanted something a bit snappier. I later grew to love praise choruses (particularly those straight out of the scripture). Now in my 60s, I miss the hymns I learned when life was simpler. Each season of life has brought change for me. 

What are some of your reflections? I’ll continue my thoughts with the “Wednesday Words” post in two days. 

1 Comment

  • Coming into ministry in my 60s, with the insights gained over years in other church positions, I echo your thoughts on being adaptable to change. Culture, percieved needs, preferences…all change. However, it is 100% necessary to hold to the clear and powerful teaching of the unchangeable truth.
    Thanks for all these thoughts.

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