By Josh King
“Calm down. Relax.”
In the history of freaking out, the words “calm down” have never actually calmed anyone down.
There are many stressors for pastors. But before we get all worked up about a few things, let’s approach the challenges that lay in front of us in a calm and collected manner.
Here are a few common pastoral challenges I’m convinced we need to chill out about.
Preaching is of primary importance in the church and is incredibly influential. Many preaching and teaching pastors I know spend the largest chunk of their week preparing the sermon.
While that’s a good thing, it’s not everything. In fact, I encourage preachers to calm down a little bit and realize that preaching is only a part of what makes the local church so important in the life of the believer.
Christian relationships, discipleship, and encouragement are all important, and many other aspects of weekly church life all play a role in the development of a Christ follower.
As a preacher, I take what I do seriously, but I have to remember I play only a small part in God’s plan.
An overemphasis on preaching leads to an inflated view of the preacher both in his mind and the minds of churchgoers. So, prepare sermons and preach faithfully, but calm down.
A good team makes all the difference, and hiring well will pay off significantly. Think about this for a moment, though. At most churches, the staff is inherited. We didn’t hire them. So, what are we supposed to do?
We develop the team we have. We coach them and care for them as people and disciples. I think this helps with hiring.
Too often we get all worked up, trying to make the perfect hire. But if you stress over the hire and aren’t developing and coaching your team, you’re wasting your time.
I’m certainly not a human resources expert, but I’m learning we should spend more time finding people of character and work ethic, and focus less on degrees and impressive social networks.
3. Building an Impressive Resume
This one can go in so many directions like formal education and tenure. Two or three times a month I listen as some young pastor stresses over which seminary to attend.
The frustration usually happens when trying to predict which institution will be most impressive. These seminary-bound students aren’t concerned with the level of education; they’re concerned with which logo on their T-shirt will open the most doors.
In many other conversations I’m hearing a young minister’s concern about how long is long enough to stay at a church. That’s probably a conversation for another time, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
This was once a real burden for me. As a graduate of Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, I cut my ministerial teeth in the shadow of the great W. A. Criswell.
One of the amazing things about Dr. Criswell was that he pastored historic First Baptist Dallas for five decades.
I felt that if I didn’t go to a church and stay for 50 years, I was unfaithful and maybe sinful. I was relieved when I realized that FBC was Dr. Criswell’s fourth or fifth pastorate.
My point is, we stress over a perfect resume that never materializes. When you see the resume of someone you respect, it rarely looks like what you were chasing.
I’m not advocating that we preach, hire, and work with half effort or no intention or direction. In everything we do we should be wise and follow closely after God’s direction.
We should, however, humble ourselves, not take ourselves so seriously, and calm down.
Josh is pastor of Second Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas, husband of Jacki, and father of three boys.