Lessons Learned in Pastoral Ministry

One aspect of wisdom is learning vicariously. Blessed is the one who can learn from the successes and failures of others. This is not the only way we learn, and sometimes not even the best way. But it is one important way we learn, and woe be to the one who does not learn some things in this way.

Learning through personal experience is an important way to learn as well. But if that is the only way one learns, life and growth will be a huge challenge as it reflects, I believe, perpetual immaturity. Furthermore, for those who live with one who only learns vicariously, life becomes extremely difficult and challenging. One cannot read Proverbs without drawing these conclusions.

This is why I read with interest the reflections from two who have been engaged in pastoral ministry for 35 and 40 years. Though I am not a young man any longer, I still long to learn from others. In the first article, Tom Ascol writes of “35 lessons from 35 years as a pastor.” In the second, Sam Storms writes from where he is at present and what he has learned and states it as “What I Wish I'd Known: Reflections on Nearly 40 Years of Pastoral Ministry.

I commend these to you, all of you (including me), but especially to those who are at the beginning stages of ministry. There is much to ponder and pray over.

May you, by God’s grace, learn some of these lessons vicariously. And when you will inevitably learn some of them experientially, may you humbly walk through the experiences keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) so that you are progressively transformed (2 Cor. 3:18) and conformed into the likeness of the Son (Rom. 8:29).

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