Before Claybury International, I was a pastor and with my wife I have been supporting Christian leaders and ministers for over 30 years. Born from this experience I wanted to share some thoughts on where things can go wrong when seeking a new position, resulting in all kinds of stress. So here are 10 mistakes that you can make when seeking a new pastorate:
1. Thinking that this is About Employment
You are not unemployed, you may be of course but this still applies. Being a pastor is not about having a job, it is about serving God. Consequently you need to see the process of seeking a new pastorate as looking to God to put you where he wants you to serve in his Kingdom. It’s a different heart/mind set and not at all like job seeking.
2. Considering “NO” to Equate to Failure
Remember that a “NO” is as much God’s guidance as a “YES”.
Identifying and testing God’s will for us is often an iterative process in which we need to “test doors” to see which is the one that God has unlocked for us. So, avoid thinking that “NO” is a rejection but rather consider it to be the positive process of God guiding you to where he wants you.
If it gets confusing get back to God to honestly assess where you are before him and seek his mind afresh.
3. Confusing Your Ambition with God’s Call
It is very easy for us to confuse our ambitions and desires with God’s call. They can arise for no end of reasons and if they, rather than God, lead you into a specific ministry situation then things are unlikely to go well.
Check yourself out for misguided ambition – what are you looking for and is it in line with God’s wishes?
4. Failing to Understand the Needs of the Church
Just like people, churches are on a journey and part of the pastor’s role is to facilitate that journey. The church has specific needs for this next phase of the journey. Be certain that you have a good handle on what they are and what expectations the church has for their new pastor. Only then will you know how well you fit. A mismatch here can lead to tremendous stresses on you, your family and the church and, have dire consequences. Of course, if the church is prepared to support training and development then some gaps can be addressed.
So ask your self “Are your gifts and experience truly in line with what the church is looking for?”
5. Mismatching Expectations
Understand what the church will expect of you. Your strengths may be pastoral and they may, for instance, have evangelistic aspirations or, desire stronger Biblical teaching or,…… There are many permutations here and great potential for mismatch. This can impose terrible stresses, ruin relationships and crush people.
Know what your strengths and weaknesses are since there are no omnicompetent pastors.
6. Minimising Differences in the Desire to be Accepted
You may feel great pressure to be accepted by a church and therefore tempted to fudge the gaps. This is not a wise course to take because it most usually ends in tears.
From your side of the equation, since there are no generic pastors, it is important to know your gifting and make it clear to the church for an honest discussion.
7. Overselling Yourself
It may be because of the pressure, desperation even, to be accepted or perhaps lack of humility, but it is always a mistake to make more of yourself than God would. It will always be seen through and is more likely to result in a “NO” than a “YES”.
Maintain an honest opinion of yourself, grounded in reality and avoid posturing, overselling yourself and showing off.
8. Making Unwise Promises
It may be tempting to try and enhance your “chances” but keep yourself grounded in God’s direction and do not make promises to a church that you cannot keep.
9. Underestimating Cultural Change
Many changes of church require the pastor and family to transport themselves significant distances and from one type of community to another. Remember that crossing cultural boundaries is difficult (but not impossible). Changing country, county and rural to urban will cost you and your family – check it out with God!
10. Minimising the Importance of Your needs
For people in ministry, financial and material things are often embarrassing and difficult to address. If it seems that God is calling, surely he will provide without our needing to do too much? It may feel uncomfortable to address your needs but it is both reasonable and important to do so. It is not a sign of weak faith.
Make sure that the church can provide for your needs. It is easier to negotiate for this at the point of contact rather than after the ministry has started.
I hope that this article has given you some useful insight and help in your quest to continue to serve God in a new pastorate.
Do You need Further help?
You may also find my book “Freedom to Lead” helpful in addressing some of the issues and stresses raised in this list. Our leadership resources website http://christian-leadership.org may also provide some materials that will be of benefit to you.
In some cases you may be seeking a new pastorate because things have serious unravelled in your ministry life. If that is the case, the Claybury International team and our associates have come along aside many ministers as they seek to overcome the consequences of ministry meltdown. If you feel that we can help you further please call us on +44 1543 878 656 or email info@OneAnother.com