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6 Things I Have Learned In My First 6 Months Out of Seminary

December 7, 2011

I am nearly six months into my first full-time, post-seminary ministry position (I was with Crusade before seminary). This is perhaps more an exercise in reflection for me than an actual benefit to those who read this blog, but I figured you might find it amusing. I wonder what I will write in 5 or 10 years.

1. The Bible is central…I’m sure I could have articulated this 6 months ago, but I had no idea what it really meant. Pastors need to be saturated in the word of God. I am thankful to work on staff at Trinity with several men and women who are more steeped in Scripture than I am. They constantly press me into the word by their example. For a pastor, and I would say even the Christian, the daily devotional books with about 2-3 verses of the Bible a day are simply not a big enough feast for what your soul craves everyday. Not only do I need knowledge of the Bible to teach it effectively, but I need the reminders of God’s grace to me when attacks come.

2. Prayer is central…It’s presence and absence from me in the past 6 months have had perhaps the single biggest impact on me and my ministry. It is a sneaky thing, because nobody sees it. Corporate prayer is not enough, the Christian needs time alone in prayer with the Lord. I am thankful for those people in and out of Trinity who constantly ask me how they can pray for me. You not only bless me with your prayers, you encourage and motivate me toward prayer.

3. Marriage is central…After the two things above, my relationship with Sarah has been a lifeline. I am thankful that at this point in our life she can be fully present and active alongside me in ministry. She is my best friend, most productive critic, and biggest encourager. Simply put, I’m not sure I would be able to do half the things I do without her support. Now, the trick is making time for us. As I write this, I am in the middle of a week that had a small group Monday, women’s Christmas dinner Tuesday, a Christmas party tonight, dinner with a college student Thursday, and a staff Christmas party on Saturday night. Our weeks fill up fast and so we cherish the unplanned time we get together when it happens.

4. Relationships are paramount…My personality naturally lends itself to fast paced, productive work with very little relational component. I am an introvert, which may surprise some people (but you should see me when I get home Sunday night). Most days I would prefer to work alone, communicate via email, and eat lunch while I’m working on something. However, I have found that ministry does not happen this way. Sure, some tasks can be done in a checklist type fashion, but ministry happens in the context of relationship. This sounds cliché, but it is true. Taking someone out for coffee just for the sake of building a relationship sometimes seems unproductive, but it is where I have seen the most fruit in ministry. Nothing beats a face to face conversation about what the Lord is doing in someone’s life.

5. Volunteers are gold…The most encouraging moments for me as a Children’s Director are when I see someone delighting in serving one of our children. For someone to invest their life in someone else for the benefit of the Gospel is no small thing. Volunteers need to be encouraged, respected (especially with their time), and affirmed. It is a rare bird of a volunteer who does not need to be checked in on. My philosophy has become that if someone is volunteering in TrinKids, they are in my “inner circle” of people I care for. This extends beyond just training and equipping them to volunteer, but caring for their soul.

6. Conflict is the name of the game…We live in a fallen world. One with fallen emotions, motives, and ways of treating one another. One pastor said to me a few months ago that he “swims in conflict 24/7.” I now know that to be true. Every decision you make will have its detractors. The key is knowing that one day you will answer to the Lord and not man. Being in ministry is a call to lead courageously and to approach conflict with confidence, dealing with it and not brushing it aside knowing that the Lord desires reconciled relationships. And then…at the end of the day you will always have those who just don’t like you no matter what you do…and that’s ok too.

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