posted November 22nd, 2016 by Brian Neese
A pastor is in charge of teaching and leading members of the congregation in their spiritual development. As the Lord says in Jeremiah 3:15,
“I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (NRSV)
Those who are called by God to minister to a church can face certain challenges. Here are some important tips and advice for new pastors that can help them maintain the right frame of mind and spirit to lead their church.
New pastors are especially vulnerable to the stressors of being a pastor, such as receiving critiques from their congregation. Pastors can help preserve their emotional balance by finding a way to learn from each experience.
One powerful way to do this is by studying God’s Word. “Develop your personal spirituality by studying and reading the Bible,” says Timothy Findley, senior pastor at Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Taking time for personal, daily devotions helps pastors conserve and renew their passion for their calling and strengthen them in their abilities to learn from each new experience.
New pastors are often sources of strength for their congregation. As a result, they often neglect their own needs for human connection and support.
It may seem obvious, but it’s important for pastors to stay connected to their loved ones, especially when they are beginning their ministerial career. “Develop and strengthen your existing friendships and relationships with family members,” Findley says. “Having people you trust who understand your emotional needs is important.”
Findley also recommends that new pastors develop hobbies outside of church to take care of their own needs and also expand their frame of reference, which can help supplement their ministry.
Another aspect of being a pastor is the day-to-day activities that can prove to be overwhelming. New pastors can easily get in over their heads and end up working too much. This is why it’s important to take a day off each week, if possible, to maintain balance.
Church finances are one example of a stressor that can overwhelm a new pastor, since finances are a primary part of the organizational structure of the church, and pastors may be asked to provide leadership here.
“Hiring or allowing a skilled financial expert, bookkeeper or accountant to perform these duties is a great solution,” Findley says. Working with a financial professional eliminates the need for pastors to spend too much time away from their core responsibilities and can help the church avoid costly mistakes. If budget does not allow for hiring a professional, seek the guidance of congregation members with a strong financial background who are willing to volunteer their time to assist the church in this capacity.
Those looking to start or advance their careers as a pastor can pursue an online ministry degree from Southeastern University. Students can choose from programs at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s level that prepare them for positions in and outside of the church. Each program takes place in a fully online learning environment, allowing students to maintain their work and personal schedules.