Brian Croft, senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, has written one of the best online pieces I’ve read in a long, long time. In the short article, he lists twenty lessons he’s learned in twenty years of pastoral ministry. I’ve listed some of my favorite ones below. Check out the full list here.
God’s Word Is Sufficient to Build Christ’s Church
On my first Sunday as senior pastor, I sat alone in the sanctuary wondering if the doors would be open in a year. I realized all my cleverness and worldly wisdom couldn’t stop the decline. But I knew God, by his Spirit and through his Word, was sufficient to build and revitalize his church. Over a decade later, I’ve watched him do this very thing.
The Gospel Is Powerful Enough to Change Lives
Programs, gimmicks, and personalities don’t change people’s hearts. Nor do they invigorate churches that have been in decline for over 30 years. For the last two decades, I’ve watched the gospel free people from the bondage of sin and give hope to the hopeless. I’ve watched it unite old and young, black and white, rich and poor. The good news has brought our church back to life. Indeed, it is powerful enough to change lives and revitalize any local church.
Hang Onto Your Family
I was once told, “You can always have another ministry. You only get one wife.” This is absolutely true. Children also grow up fast and need their dad. Make sure you balance ministry and family life in such a way that your wife and children always come first, even in the grind of ministry. I’ve learned to take all my vacation time and not to answer the phone during dinner, devotions, and my day off. Remember, if you lose your family, you may lose the right to serve in ministry at all (1 Tim. 3:4–5).
Faithfulness Is Worth the Harshest of Criticisms
Hard decisions have been made in every church I’ve served. Members have been disciplined. Men who just completed seminary have been counseled not to pursue vocational ministry. Attenders have been denied membership. Members have been removed due to their neglect. Countercultural decisions to defend the gospel in the community have been mocked. I’ve endured many harsh words because of my decisions to obey Scripture. My name has been so slandered that people recognized me in stores or coffee shops only because of the painful and public words said about me. But I can endure even the harshest words because I trust Christ will count me faithful, even despite my sin, when I stand before him.