Posts belonging to Category Pastors

17 Things Seminary Never Taught Me

Deepak Reju shares his list of 17 things that seminary never taught me.

 1. How to tell a man his wife just died.
 2. How to tell a couple they should not get married.
 3. How to tell a staff member he is fired.
 4. How to tell my wife that I am depressed.
 5. How to tell someone that he or she is foolish.
 6. How to encourage someone who has given up on life.
 7. How to plead with a man to stay with his wife.
 8. How to give comfort to a woman whose husband just left her.
 9. How to comfort a mother who just suffered a miscarriage.
10. How to navigate the IRS tax code for pastors.
11. How to chair an elders’ meeting.
12. How to organize and manage a church budget.
13. How to balance church responsibilities with family life.
14. How to do a wedding and a funeral.
15. How to administer the Lord’s Supper.
16. How to best use technology for the sake of the kingdom.
17. How to shield my kids from the pressures of being a PK.

Actually we did cover a number of these in seminary, but there are some things you just don’t learn in a classroom. Looking over the list, I would say these are quite typical of the things pastors do. I have had to deal with some version of all 17 of these at one point or another in my 22 years of ministry.

The Pastor’s Dog

Well, I posted on pastors earlier this week and then on the pastor’s wife, so I thought it was time for the pastor’s dog. I love this old cartoon from Leadership Journal.

Pastor's Dog

Remember, Beauregard, you’re the pastor’s dog; all the other dogs will be watching you.

                  (Rob Suggs; Leadership, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, no. 2, p. 75.)

Related posts:
    • You Might Be a Pastor If …
    • You Might Be a Pastor’s Wife If …
    • Parable of the Prodigal Puppy

You Might Be a Pastor’s Wife If …

Here is a follow-up to yesterday’s post on You Might Be a Pastor.

You might be a pastor’s wife if …

  • Every summer you counsel at teen camp for your vacation.
  • You have shaken as many hands as a politician.
  • People think your husband works only three hours a week.
  • You can teach Sunday School and nurse your baby at the same time.
  • You can sincerely pray for someone’s dog!
  • You spend more time visiting in hospitals than doctors do.
  • People consider you a walking phone book for church members.
  • You sing in the choir, teach Sunday School, and host a missionary family all in the same day.
  • You’re expected to be a piano player … actually, a “spiritual gift!”

Source: You Might Be a Pastor’s Wife If, by Kathy Slamp

Related posts:
    • You Might Be a Pastor If …
    • The Pastor’s Dog

You Might Be a Pastor If …

H. B. London shared some of these at a recent pastors’ seminar:

You might be a pastor if …

  • You hesitate to tell people what you do for a living.
  • You’ve ever wondered why people couldn’t die at more appropriate times.
  • You find yourself counting people at a sporting event.
  • You’re leading the church into the 21st century, but you don’t know what you’re preaching on Sunday.
  • Instead of getting “ticked off,” you get “grieved in your spirit.”
  • You often feel like you’re herding cats rather than shepherding sheep.
  • You’ve been tempted to take up an offering at a family reunion.

And my personal favorite:

  • You’ve ever dreamed you were preaching only to awaken and discover you were!

Related posts:
    • You Might Be a Pastor’s Wife If …
    • The Pastor’s Dog

Six Pastoral Goals

Colin Adams shares the following six excellent goals for pastors (from Being a Pastor, by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg):

  1. to feed the flock (John 21:15-17)
  2. to proclaim the whole will of God (Acts 20:27)
  3. to present everyone perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29)
  4. to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:12)
  5. to equip God’s people to be fishers of men (2 Timothy 4:5)
  6. to keep watch over oneself until the task is complete (1 Timothy 4:16)

I have often marvelled at the sheer magnitude of Paul’s purpose statement as expressed in number three above, i.e. “to present everyone perfect in Christ.” Wow!

Pastors and Pedestals

As a pastor there are many reasons why I don’t want anyone to put me on a pedestal. William Mounce offers another reason that I hadn’t thought about before:

People want to place their pastors on a pedestal (sometimes so they can get a better shot at them).

HT: Koinonia

Pastor or a Normal Person

On the way out of the nursing home where I preach twice a month, one of the elderly ladies asked me, “Are you a pastor or a normal person?” Sometimes I wonder that myself!

Pastors and Family Life

This was put out by the Gospel Coalition in 2007. Tim Keller answers the question: “What do you tell pastors about their family life?” You have probably heard it all before, but these are wise words and well worth repeating.

(Video length: 1:43)

I don’t really know of any minister that gets to the tenth or the twentieth year that doesn’t wish they had spent more time with their family. I don’t know of anybody. In fact my wife likes to say: No minister on his death bed said, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” Or … even, “I wish I had spent more time in ministry.” This is very hard to imagine, ministers on their death bed feeling like that. They almost always will say, “I wish I had spent more time with God, one on one, and I wish I had spent more time with my children and my wife.” … It’s so obvious as soon as you think about it … you know what you’re going to regret, so why don’t you try to diminish those regrets right now …

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that there is no way for that to happen easily, and people are going to get mad at you if you do it right. And Jesus says, “Beware when all men speak well of you.” So … balls are going to drop and people are going to be angry at you, but guess what, balls are going to drop and people are going to be angry at you anyway, and then you’ll be prayerless and you won’t have a strong family. So you might as well have a strong relationship with God and a strong family and have people mad at you, because they’re going to be mad at you anyway.

Pastor’s Library for Sale

Pastor Jack Hamilton died earlier this summer, and his library is now up for sale. It is some library. The bidding starts at $295,000 if you are interested!

HT: David Heddle at He Lives

How the Pastor Can Make Everyone Happy

Can the pastor of a church really make everyone happy? Greg Simmons says yes — just not all at the same time (from a comment at Church Relevance).

It is possible for pastors to make everyone happy. Some are happy when you come to the church, others are happy while you’re there, and the rest are happy when you leave.

Oh well, maybe two-thirds of the people at my church are happy then. Of course, the more important question is, “Should the pastor make everyone happy?” (What do you think?)

Al Mohler on Theological Triage

Albert Mohler describes the process of theological triage in part two of his article: The Pastor as Theologian.

The pastor must learn to discern different levels of theological importance. First-order doctrines are those that are fundamental and essential to the Christian faith. The pastor’s theological instincts should seize upon any compromise on doctrines such as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of atonement, and essentials such as justification by faith alone. Where such doctrines are compromised, the Christian faith falls. When a pastor hears an assertion that Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead is not a necessary doctrine, he must respond with a theological instinct that is based in the fact that such a denial is tantamount to a rejection of the Gospel itself.

Second-order doctrines are those which are essential to church life and necessary for the ordering of the local church, but which, in themselves, do not define the Gospel. That is to say, one may detect an error in a doctrine at this level and still acknowledge that the person in error remains a believing Christian. Nevertheless, such doctrines are directly related to how the church is organized and its ministry is fulfilled. Doctrines found at this level include those most closely related to ecclesiology and the architecture of theological systems. Calvinists and Arminians may disagree concerning a number of vital and urgently important doctrines–or, at the very least, the best way to understand and express these doctrines. Yet, both can acknowledge each other as genuine Christians. At the same time, these differences can become so acute that it is difficult to function together in the local congregation over such an expansive theological difference.

Third-order doctrines are those which may be the ground for fruitful theological discussion and debate, but which do not threaten the fellowship of the local congregation or the denomination. Christians who agree on an entire range of theological issues and doctrines may disagree over matters related to the timing and sequence of events related to Christ’s return. Yet, such ecclesiastical debates, while understood to be deeply important because of their biblical nature and connection to the Gospel, do not constitute a ground for separation among believing Christians.

I find this three-fold distinction helpful. How about you?

Pastors Per 10,000 People

The following graphic plots the number of employed pastors per ten thousand people in the United States since 1850. The data was collected from the US Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pastors Per 10,000 People | 1850-2000

Brad Wright comments:

It turns out that there have been about 1.2 pastors for every thousand people during the whole period. The stability is remarkable … In the church, there’s often a lot of talk about how Christianity is disappearing in the U.S. While the above figure doesn’t plot Christian pastors, per se, it does suggest that religion itself isn’t going anywhere.