I’m not completely sure that the following are my top five mistakes as a pastor, as the title of this post promises, but they are five...out of a million. Some more serious, some just stupidly funny.
1. Using an illustration of my wife in a message without her permission.
This is a mistake preachers should only make once, especially if you want to remain married. I can’t even remember what the illustration was, but it was one of the dumbest decisions I’ve made. My wife is very generous with what she allows me to share, but some things are just off limits. It’s okay if I look bad; not okay to make her look bad. And after all, she IS amazing (hoping that makes up for it a bit).
2. Thinking I’m the Savior.
This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned. I remember early in ministry getting so excited to save marriages and restore families and heal all the wounds…only to find out I am massively inadequate. After the first marriage crisis continued to go up in smoke even after my incredible attempts to save it, I finally realized that I’m not the Savior, Jesus doesn’t need me, and I am desperate for him to work. I’m thankful that he uses us, but he doesn’t need us. He is the only Savior.
3. Thinking I’m Superman.
Only slightly better than my savior complex, for a while I thought I could lead everything, counsel everyone, and preach as many services as the day would allow. Then, after a semester of 4 Sunday services, pursuing a doctorate, leading a growing church with a limited staff, and trying to care for our then family of 5, I nearly quit the ministry. While it stinks to have a near burn out, I think every young pastor needs to get there before you understand how important the physical and emotional side of pastoring is. Only Jesus is Superman. We humans will have to settle for good rest, limits, delegation, exercise, down time, and recharging.
4. Failing to Confront and Hold Staff Accountable.
I’m thankful to work with a great staff. We have a great team environment, care for each other, and seek to advance the Gospel together. But as the team leader, I’ve had to learn some “boss” lessons the hard way. The biggest has been to lovingly and consistently hold my staff accountable. I have tended to be vague, inconsistent, and way too patient with underachieving staff members. I feared confronting and holding their feet to the fire. So I would let things go until I couldn’t handle it any more. Then I would abruptly fire someone I thought was performing poorly. The problem was that they were shocked and confused. I thought it was clear that they were failing, but the problem was that I had not communicated well and had not required accountability. This is a tough area. No one likes to confront and keep others accountable. But good leaders learn to do it. I’m not there yet, but I’m hoping to make some good progress in this area.
5. Preaching Blunders.
There is a mess of these. So here are a few. I’ve accidentally mispronounced many words, but the worst was when one came out as a cuss word. I think it began with an “S.” The college students loved it. I was rather embarrassed.
I’ve devoured Uno’s Chicken Fajita pizza on Saturday evening. You can imagine what that did to me on Sunday morning. Not a good idea, especially will multiple services to preach.
After doing some baptisms early in the service, in which I got fully wet, I went to change and realized I failed to pack clean boxers. Not a fun day to be preaching.
Like I said, those are just a few. I’ll probably add a new one this Sunday.
My Top 5 Mistakes as a Pastor
Today's post here on the Desperate Pastor blog is a guest post from my friend, super-pastor Jeremy Carr. Jeremy is the lead pastor of Oxford Bible Fellowship in--you guessed it--Oxford, Ohio.