The annoying sound of the alarm on my phone goes off once more at 7:45. “I really should wake up now.” I quickly ready myself for the day ahead of me. I keep a running list of things I must remember in my brain. The list includes book bag (with my laptop in it), breakfast (most mornings a pop-tart), my planner, my bible, and whatever else I need to sustain me throughout the day. I hustle up the stairs, and out to my car on another hot, sunny, central Iowa day. I arrive at Kalona Coffee at 9ish for our Monday Morning Staff Meeting. I order a fruit smoothie from the counter, and I take my seat next to Pastor Dave, and Pastor Jon. We begin our staff meeting noting any praises from the previous week, which encourages us as we dive into the work ahead of us. We then begin the never ending work of Pastoral Ministry. This has been my life for the past 12 weeks, and I have loved every second of it.
This week marks an end to my 12 week internship. These 12 weeks have challenged, molded, encouraged, strengthened, and cultivated my own life and my ministry skills. I have always been very busy, and I have never wondered what I would do with my time at the office. I have loved my work, my co-workers, and my church here in Central Iowa. I have learned to call this place home, and I have loved my home.
I have loved the Monday morning staff meetings, the many delicious meals with church members, the countless hours of sermon preparation, the encouraging visitations, and the numerous other aspects of this internship that have made this summer special. I have learned so many lessons here at PFBC. Here are the 7 main lessons:
7 Lessons I have Learned at PFBC…
1. Never leave work before checking the weather.
- During my first week here at PFBC I encountered a huge storm on my way home from work. A huge wind gust blew my truck into the ditch, and I had to call Pastor Dave for help. This lesson is very humorous, but definitely true. I will never leave work without checking the weather ever again.
2. Ministry is not limited to the hours of 9-5.
- I quickly realized in my first week at PFBC that ministry happens after hours. Pastors definitely must labour to preserve their off-time, but they also must realize that people do not just encounter hardship during these times. Pastor Dave allowed me the privilege of being involved in every “crisis” situation. I saw everything from 10:30 P.M. phone calls to entire off days being occupied by ministry. Often the calls we got were mentally straining, and I often needed to cry out to God for help. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity I have had to participate in “real” ministry at all hours.
3. I cannot be the “Savior” in ministry.
- Every Pastor struggles with pride in one form or another. Counseling often leaves you feeling “accomplished” especially if you have just told them exactly what they needed. The Pastor is involved in many situations in which he can project himself to be the “hero”. The sad reality is that many Pastors have spent far too long trying to be the “Savior”, and their ministries are clear representations of it. Many times we spend far too often contemplating what we can do to help someone. The reality is that we cannot help anyone in our own strength. Charles Spurgeon says, “The gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it simply needs to be let out of its cage.” I learned that any effectiveness I will have in ministry will ultimately come from Jesus Christ, and the power of His gospel.
4. There is a tremendous benefit in having more than one Pastor.
- One of the benefits I have had here at PFBC is the benefit of a Pastoral Staff. I was privileged to work under two great Pastors this summer. The unique aspect of our staff is that we are all so different in personality, but yet united in mission. The benefit of this was the unique perspective we all had on different situations. I found myself time and time again thankful for their input on different assignments. The unfortunate downfall of many Pastors today is a lack of accountability. I appreciated the fact that the staff at PFBC were all very transparent, and extremely accountable. I count both of these men as fantastic ministry partners, and great friends.
5. The trials of ministry will either tear you apart, or pull you together.
- The work of Pastoral ministry is an incredible privilege. This privilege does not come with a lack of trials. In fact Pastoral ministry will bring you more trials than you could ever hope to handle. This internship was not absent of various trials. I found myself in many situations doubting my call to ministry, and question my ability to “Pastor” effectively. Fortunately God continued to work while I was here, and the trials I encountered during my time here encouraged my call. I found myself having an even deeper desire for Pastoral ministry. The trials we as a staff faced strengthened our bond of unity. I feel a deeper bond with these two men because of different difficult situations we faced. God used the fire of the trials to strengthen my ability for ministry, and to deepen my trust in him. This lesson was hard to understand, but it was vital to my development. Trials, for the believer, are a definite, but your response to them makes all the difference.
6. Develop friendships that will sustain you in ministry.
- The presence of these trials mentioned earlier, almost necessitate the need for deep, personal, godly friends. I am grateful for the fact that both Pastors here were not only my coworkers, but they are also my friends. They were able to encourage me throughout this internship, which impacted me tremendously. I am also very grateful for a couple of close friends that I kept in contact throughout the summer. They encouraged me, supported me, and even kept me laughing. Many Pastors have few friends because of the nature of their work. While it is hard to maintain friendships in ministry, I believe it is crucial for a Pastor to have a couple good friends he can call in times of trouble.
7. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
- I heard this phrase almost everyday on my internship. The fact that Pastor Dave almost overstated this phrase does not negate its truth. I came into this internship content with just, “getting the job done”. I now see the value in striving for excellence in everything you are doing. I saw this quality in both Pastors, as both of them are excellent Pastors. I can remember my first sermon I preached at PFBC. Pastor Dave had me write up a sermon preview for the bulletin. I can remember spending around 20 minutes typing this up, and I was content with how it looked. He took one glance at what I had wrote, and gave it back to me. We sat down and spent a half hour revising it. He would not let me give half an effort, which is exactly what I needed. Life is too short to do anything half heartedly. One of the biggest lessons I learned this summer was, if I am going to glorify God, I need to give Him my best in everything I do.
I enjoyed many aspects of interning, but I would have to say may favorite was the process of preparing sermons. I had preached many times before this internship, but this was my first experience actually preparing a sermon during a normal, robust week of Pastoring. I enjoyed the frightening, yet rewarding aspect of sharing God’s word on 5 different occasions during the morning worship service.
I have learned many lessons on this internship that I will not soon forget. I have loved my time at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. I am thankful for all of the members who took me in and fed me, encouraged me, challenged me, and loved me. I am excited to see how God uses this experience in the future, and I hope I have been a blessing to the church as well. To my Prairie Flower Church Family… May God bless you and keep you. I have you all in my heart!