Thursday, May 29, 2014

Advice for Pastors from T.C. Melton after 60 years of Ministry - Part 3

Part 3 of 3

20.  YOU, PROBABLY, HAVE A LOT OF OLDER FOLK IN YOUR CHURCH.   You need to remember that these older folk will be your greatest supporters  if you will let them know that you love them and find ways to spend some time with them.    You need to remember that if you ignore them or have a negative attitude toward  them, they can become your worst critics.  By-the-way, in all likelihood these folk pay a good percent of your salary.   Encourage your   Music Minister  to remember these folk when he plans  the song service.                      

21.  PASTORS,  REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A GOOD, WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DEACONS.  The Apostle Paul had great respect for deacons.   He makes special mention of “deacons” in the opening remarks of many of his letters to the churches.  Bro. Pastor, respect your deacons.  Never tell “deacon jokes.”  Never criticize your deacons from the pulpit.   You can have a “team” ministry with them.     Getting regular,  personal time with each of your deacons (coffee time, hamburger time, etc.)  will go a long ways in  helping you to have good working relationship with these men.  You can “handle” a problem deacon (or any other member) much better over a cup of coffee at the DQ than you can in a Wednesday evening business conference.   If it is true that a fellow does not become the pastor of a church until he has been there four or five years, then countless churches have only had “preachers,” not “pastors.”  It is likely “short term” pastorates  have  resulted in deacons becoming the “power structure” in countless churches.  It is true, not just with “difficult”  deacons, but with some  other church members.  People don’t “become” our enemies.   We usually “make” them our enemies.   A well known pastor said to a group of young ministers, when asked “How do you handle your enemies?”  He said, “Make them your friends.” 

22.  YOU WILL BECOME A GREATER AND MORE LOVED PASTOR IF YOU WILL BE FAITHFUL IN DOING  THE TWO THINGS THAT PAUL MENTIONS IN ROMANS 15:12,   “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  Be there when people are having their happiest times...the wedding, the birth of the baby, the retirement party, etc.  And, “be there” when your people are going through their most difficult and darkest hours....a death in the family, when other kinds of tragedy and troubles come to a family, etc.  There are some things a pastor would do well to not delegate to others.  His presence is, often,  both needed and greatly appreciated. If you are not “THERE” you are not likely to be the pastor regardless of how you excel in the pulpit.

23. PASTOR, DON’T UNDER OR OVER ESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF  DRESS.   There is an appropriate way to dress that is acceptable to both your younger and older church folk.   The office you hold is one of great dignity.  Your dress should always reflect this, “in” and “out” of the pulpit.   It is not good for the people to leave church talking more about the pastor’s manner of dress than his message.   

24. PASTOR, REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF RECREATION AND RELAXATION, INCLUDING GETTING  REGULAR PHYSICAL EXERCISE   The form these take will differ from pastor to pastor.  As much as possible, try to  eat right.  Watch your weight.  Good health is a plus for the pastor.  Use the stairs   more often than the  elevator.    Park on the back-side of the parking lot instead of trying to find a parking space nearest the entrance to the building.  Be determined to be like Caleb when you are 85 years of age.

25. PASTOR, REMEMBER TO  FOLLOW PAUL’S EXAMPLE  (PHILIPPIANS 1;3), FILL YOUR MEMORY BANK WITH GOOD MEMORIES.   You can be assured that you are going to have both good and bad things  happen to you in pastoral ministry.  If you want to have a miserable ministry and grow old being “sour” and “negative,” all you have to do  is daily review and relive all of those bad things that come you way.   Too many pastors forget what they ought to remember and remember what they ought to forget.

26. PASTOR, REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF  “BURYING YOUR HEART” SOME PLACE.    It is true that our Lord moves some pastors every few years, but it seems that the greatest churches (and not just in size)  are those who have had pastors to come and “stay.”  Remember to not only have a growing love for your church, but also for the community where your church is located.  You have probably heard the story told about what happened to David Livingston before his body was brought back to London from Africa.  Part of his body is buried in Westminster Abby.  He died in Chitambo’s village (in modern Zambia) in April, 1873.  Before the natives took his body to Zanzibar on the east coast of Africa to be put on a ship for England, Livingstone’s  followers  cut out  his  heart and buried it at the foot of the tree under which he died.  It has been said that  his followers declared to those who put his body on the ship bound for England that “You can take Dr. Livingstone to England, but his heart will always be in Africa.”   Need more be said?

27.  PASTOR, IF YOU LIVE LONG ENOUGH, YOU WILL GET OLDER.   Remember, when God called you to ministry, it was, and is, a life-long call.  If you want to do great harm to your church people  and have a dismal ministry in your post 55 years, all you have to do is start  looking forward to retiring at age 65.  A deacon, when asked when his pastor retired, said,   “He retired four years ago.  He resigned two weeks ago.”   As you get older, if you can keep reasonably good health, you should never start thinking about retiring.  Your last years can be your best and, in some ways, the most productive.    Rather than thinking “retiring,” think “retooling.”  You, probably, “started well,”  Be determined to “end well.”


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