This next week, on Tuesday, November 10, I will celebrate my seventh year as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. In a lot of ways, the years have flown by. In fact, I took this ministry while wrapping up my studies at Faith Baptist Bible College, when I was just 26 years old, with a wife and one child. I’m now facing age 34 in a couple of months with a wife and three kids (plus a puppy dog) in tow…Man alive, the years have truly flown by.
As I reflect on seven years of pastoral ministry, many of my feelings remain the same. That is to say, I still find pastoral ministry to be one of the most adrenaline-inducing privileges of my life. As I often say, pastoral ministry may be many things, but it’s certainly not boring! I also still feel overwhelming gratitude to my wife, Heather, who has stuck by my side through thick and thin. At times, it’s not easy being a pastor’s wife, but Heather exudes a quiet strength that has gotten me through some of the darkest nights of soul. I also still find myself feeling extremely thankful for the incredible folks out here on the prairie. I know that might seem trite, or just a nice thing to say, but I mean it…My heart continues to be knit with the folks of Prairie Flower and I find it a privilege to be one of their pastors who prays for them, preaches to them, and serves alongside them.
But as you can imagine, the year 2020 has brought into my pastoral ministry a whole new slew of lessons that have been “fun” to learn…Here are three of the top lessons I’ve learned during my seventh year of pastoral ministry…
1. Plans often change. But goals (for the most part) do not change. If 2020 has taught me anything it’s simply this – hold your plans with an open palm. Indeed, planning with hard and fast deadlines isn’t wrong, but just remember that God is sovereign and will often adjust our plans for our good and His glory. We must be willing to be humble and flexible with our planners and calendars. Yes, plans in the ministry often change, but the goals of ministry do not change…Even in a global pandemic, people need to be prayed for, fed the Word, and led with love. Finding creative ways to continue to do these things has been a growing, stretching experience.
2. Preaching is important. But meeting (as a church in-person) is essential. In no way, shape, or form am I devaluing the importance of preaching. God has chosen this one method of communication to be hugely transformative in the lives of His people. But when the lockdowns happened, every preacher and their brother took to the internet. Indeed, we preachers became tele-evangelists overnight! My point is this, you can literally stream a sermon online from anywhere in the world and be fed God’s Word. But meeting together (as a church in person) is so much more than hearing a sermon…Meeting together is about spiritual connection, true fellowship, and the ability to serve one another. These things can’t be replaced with online church and an online sermon.
3. People need leadership. But leadership (by and large) is hard. I don’t know if this is necessarily a new lesson, but this lesson has definitely been amplified during the mess of 2020. I remember at the height of the Coronavirus hysteria, my Associate Pastor and I were daily watching the Governor’s press conferences. Oh. My. Goodness. The comments people were writing on social media as the Governor was making her remarks were rude and repulsive. People can be so mean! Seeing those nasty comments gave me some PTSD to some of the worst moments of my pastoral ministry, where I tried to lead, but people didn’t want to follow, and made it verbally known! Yes, people need leadership, but leadership is often very hard. I wish citizens of a state, and saints in the church, would understand this one concept, namely, there are many good paths to walk down, but you can only go down one path at a time…That’s why leadership matters.
Well Prairie Flower, as I said seven years ago (but mean more today), “I love you, and I will lead you.” And in the end, it will be all from His grace and for His glory…