New Opportunities for Pastoral Growth

By Dr. Wayde Goodall
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New paths for growth in pastoral ministry require new methods, new tactics, and new ground. Stretching and growing is never comfortable but is essential for healthy churches to flourish.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:36-39)

When Jesus spoke this parable, there were no water bottles or Starbucks tumblers. Liquids were put into animal skins that were used like a canteen. When putting new wine into the old wineskins, the new wine would ferment and produce additional gasses—and the old wineskin would burst because it had become hardened and brittle.

New wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:38)

The story reminds me of a reality that all of us face: New situations require new structures. With a new job, we need to learn new skills. New relationships require new ways of relating to people. To have a better attitude, we need to think differently and put our negative experiences, unhealthy emotions, mistakes, and failures behind us.

Are there wineskins that we’ve depended on for a long time . . . old ways of thinking, acting, talking, or listening? Responses that worked well before might not work today. Perhaps some “new wineskins” should be considered.

New Challenges require creative solutions

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15)

Some excuses that are frequently used for having a closed mind include:

  • We’ve tried that before.
  • The last pastor tried that.
  • This is a sacred cow … stay away from that
  • We’ve never done it that way before.
  • We’ve always done it this way.
  • It costs too much.
  • We don’t have enough time.
  • That’s not our problem.
  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • Let’s form a committee.

Most people spend more time and energy trying to get around problems than they do solving them. You might say, “I’m not creative. Yes, you are! You were made by the Creator and have creative abilities that you haven’t yet tapped.

You have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24)

New Pressures require that I stand for my convictions

Conviction is a willingness to stand up for what you believe. All of us have pressures to bend the truth, compromise in our faith, and make ethical decisions that are questionable. Many yield to temptation, letting pressure from others persuade them into doing something that they know is wrong. Make the decision that no matter what the pressure is, you will not move from the convictions that the Holy Spirit has given you. Say, “I don’t care if everyone is doing it! It’s not right, and I’m not going to do it!” 

A new Attitude gives us new opportunities in life 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Pressures frequently help us have strong convictions and trust God. Paul the apostle wrote, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life . . . But this happened so we might not rely on ourselves but on God . . .”  (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Paul said he had this incredible pressure (beyond his ability to handle) so that he would rely on God, not on his own strength. When we feel overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, we can decide that we’re going to trust God and continue to do what we know is right.

New Possibilities require us to have courage

This season in your life will bring you new possibilities from the Lord. He desires to do wonderful things in your life, your family, your personal growth, your education, your occupation, your walk with Him, and more. All of these areas will require “new wineskins.” You can do this, but in order to walk in courage, you will need to consider doing some things differently. If you don’t, likely things will not be different a month from now, a year from now. You will not have grown.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love’ break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

Plowing new ground will take new courage. To change, to become better, to walk in new areas of faith, to overcome bad habits, to apologize, to obtain more education, and to trust our creative abilities will all take courage. Doing things in different ways can make us feel overwhelmed and fearful, but understand that you are a child of God (John 1:12) and He will give you wisdom for every decision you make. 

If you feel stunted or stuck with growing as a pastor, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to call and speak with one of Focus on the Family’s pastoral counselors.  You can reach them for a free consultation Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 1-844-4PASTOR.  The Family Help Center staff member who answers the phone will arrange for a counselor to call you back.  One of them will be in touch just as soon as they’re able.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.

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About the Author

Dr. Wayde Goodall

Dr. Goodall has written and co-authored 14 books, including; Success Kills, Why Great Men Fall, Conflict Management for Church Leaders, Marriage and Family, The Fruit of the Spirit, The Choice, The Blessing, The Battle, and Back to the Word.  Many of which are translated into several languages.  His latest book, Success Kills: Sidestep the Snares that will Steal Your Dreams, was released in 2009. Another of his books, called Marriage and …

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