You can transform our nation ... one family at a time!
Choose the monthly amount
you'd like to give.
You can transform our nation ...
one family at a time!
Choose the monthly amount you'd like to give.

Lessons From 15 Years of Pastoral Ministry

A ray of sun at sunrise shines through the leaves of the tree.
If you are a pastor, never forget the blessing and privilege of serving the Lord. There will be days, no doubt, when you want to throw in the towel, but don’t give up! As Paul writes, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).

It’s hard to believe, but this May will mark my 15th anniversary in pastoral ministry. This has been a deeply gratifying and rewarding experience, and I am grateful to God for His call upon my life. In some ways, I am still just a beginner in ministry, but I have also learned many lessons during my first 15 years in the Church. Allow me to share a few.

The centrality of prayer

Ministry makes enormous demands on the pastor and his family. There is always something more to do, and because of all the busyness, pastors can often push prayer aside. This can damage the pastor’s life and ministry, especially over time. Therefore, the pastor must ensure he builds prayer into the daily rhythms of his life. 

I am thankful for a church that holds my family and me up in prayer, along with other friends and family members who do the same. Ministry is war! Without prayer, the minister is headed for trouble.

The Word of God propels spiritual growth

I guess I am a slow learner, but it took me a while to realize that the Word of God is central to our growth in Christian maturity (Matthew 4:4 1 Peter 1:22-2:3). I see pastors all the time relying on gimmicks, programs, and more gimmicks – things that promise to make disciples and fulfill the Great Commission, but in the end are found lacking. 

Shepherds must ensure the flock is well-fed to grow and flourish in the Lord. This cannot happen without faithful and consistent Bible teaching. There is simply no substitute! The sooner we learn that the Word of God is sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the sooner we will see true gospel growth in our churches.

The need for patience and perseverance

I grew up on a farm and know the importance of patience when sowing and reaping. The farmer plants his crop in the spring but has to wait several months until harvest. If people grow through the Word of God (as we have just established), it will require patience over the long haul. Pastors must commit to faithfully teaching the Word of God year after year. There will be a harvest in due time, but it takes patience and perseverance. 

Expect times of trial, disappointment, and suffering, but persevere in the strength and grace that only Christ can provide (James 4:6). Also, keep in mind the words of the apostle Paul:

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

The importance of one-to-one discipling relationships

I love the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. When Philip found the eunuch reading Isaiah 53, he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, ‘How can I unless someone guides me?’… Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:30-31, 35). 

The pastor must set the tone when mentoring and discipling relationships in the church. It starts with one person discipling another, with the Word of God as the focal point. This sets a multiplication process in motion, where disciples make more disciples. Paul told Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The pastor can’t disciple everyone, but he can train a few who will train a few, and so on.

Foster a loving church culture

What is a healthy church? I suppose there are a few ways of answering this question, but one indispensable quality of a healthy church is love among the brethren (John 13:34-35). Plain and simple, within a healthy church, people care for one another, serve one another, and ultimately love one another (Galatians 5:13). Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19), and now genuine love is the mark of every true church. When we begin to comprehend the love of God in our own lives, we can’t help but love one another.

Family ministry is a critical part of the Pastor’s job.

When I started pastoral ministry, it was around the same time that Steph and I got married. We had two years of marriage to settle down and get to know one another, but then the Lord blessed us with children. And not just one little bambino, but twins! 

I felt a strong tension during those first few years of being a dad and a pastor. I wanted to be at the church or out doing ministry, but at the same time, I wanted to be at home with my family. Finding the right balance was a real challenge for me, and it still is.

Along the way, a fellow pastor gave me wise counsel. He reminded me that an essential part of pastoral ministry is to shepherd your family. In the qualifications given for elders and overseers, Paul writes:

“He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). 

Paul is not suggesting pastors should spend all their time at home, but he is saying that the home is a critical aspect of the pastors’ ministry. 

Neglecting your family in the name of “doing what God has called me to do” is never a good idea. That is not a way to find success in the eyes of the Lord. Rather than seeing your family as a hindrance to your ministry, see them as your ministry. This paradigm shift was significant for me, but it has made an enormous difference.

What a valuable asset my wife is

One year our church was holding a candlelight Christmas service when my wife rescued me in a big way. Near the end of the service when all the candles were lit, and we had just sung Silent Night, I was getting ready to go up and close the service. My mind was focused on what I wanted to say in closing, and as I reached for the handheld mic, I unwittingly went to set my candle down on the pew in front of me. Thankfully, my wife, Steph, caught me and grabbed my candle just in time, saving me from much embarrassment (and possibly the church from a fire). 

Steph is my most trusted friend and counselor and has been an immense help to me in ministry. She has a huge heart for women’s ministry, and deeply loves the Word of God.  Most of what she does goes unnoticed by our congregation, but not by me.

Pastors (and husbands in general), thank God for your wife and treasurer her, for she is an incalculable blessing. (Proverbs 31:10-12)

Endurance leads to fruitfulness

Serving the Lord as a pastor for these 15 years has been a huge joy and privilege. I could undoubtedly share more lessons, and I know there are many more to learn. God has always been faithful, and He always will be.  If you are a pastor, never forget the blessing and privilege of serving the Lord in this way. There will be days, no doubt, when you want to throw in the towel, but don’t give up! As Paul writes, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). God has promised His servants a great reward if they persevere and don’t give up (2 Timothy 4:8). 


What Makes a Pastor Successful

6 Joys of Pastoring

6 Blessings of Pastoral Friendships

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Focus on the Family Plugged In logo

Entertainment Reviews Your Family Can Trust

Plugged In shines a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate, and impact the culture in which they live. Let us help your family make wise and informed choices about movies, TV shows, music, video games, and more!
Close up of a young, pensive Asian woman listening to someone talking to her on her phone

Talk to a Counselor

If you need further guidance and encouragement, Focus on the Family has a staff of licensed, professional counselors who offer a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective. They can also refer you to counselors in your area for ongoing assistance.
Reach a Focus on the Family counselor toll-free at 1-855-771-HELP (4357).

Understand How to Respect and Love Your Son Well

"Why doesn’t my son listen to me?" Have you ever asked yourself that? The truth is, how you view your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. We’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Focus on Parenting Podcast

Mom or dad, could you use some encouragement and support? Put your ear buds in for this Christian parenting podcast and get practical, faith-based inspiration through all stages of parenting. Hosted by Dr. Danny Huerta, in every 8 to 15 minute episode, you’ll hear parenting experts share Biblical truths, effective parenting techniques, and useful resources that will help you feel equipped as a mom or dad in today’s culture.
Parenting a strong-willed child resource promotion

Learn How to Speak Your Strong-Willed Child's Language

In this free 6-part video series, Cynthia Tobias, author of many popular parenting books including You Can’t Make Me, explains why your strong-willed child thinks in certain ways and gives you effective tools you can use when communicating with him or her. Start today!

Get Equipped With the Truth So
You Can Bring Light to the Lies

Abortion is not an easy subject to talk about. You want to defend the truth, to expose the realities so easily confused during these times. Yet, it is so easy to tense up, to get nervous, to get so concerned with wanting to say the “right thing” that you end up saying nothing at all. If you feel at a loss when these conversations come up, this video series, “8 Lies About Abortion,” can help equip you with the truth, and the confidence to engage in the discussion.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.


About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

a young man stands on a stage in front of an audience

Pastors as Guardians of Sound Doctrine

Pastors must be theologians and apologists in this world awash in false doctrine, theological confusion, and spiritual deception. As shepherds of the church, they must guard the flock. They must shoulder the duty and take up the privilege of being truth-tellers about what matters most.

Shown from behind, a shepherd dressed like a hiker leading a flock of sheep down a narrow tree-lined path

Celebrating Pastor Appreciation Month

Pastor Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastoral families for their sacrificial dedication.


Pastoral Care and Discipleship in a Time of Crisis

Christians have been here before, and we can take comfort and wisdom from the actions of those who faced these kinds of things well. During the first 100 years or so of the early church, there are letters written by Roman governors during times of plague talking about the behavior of this strange new group of people, Christians.