Growing Into Ministry: Advice from a Veteran

Growing Into Ministry: Advice from a Veteran

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Lynn Turner is Senior Associate Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA. Some time ago Lynn shared her thoughts about ministry with the seminarians in one of my courses. Here are her thoughts about “Growing Into Ministry: Nine Tips I Have Learned”:

1. Find a mentor

Many people who are in their middle 30s to late 40s have no clue about how to enter into the middle part of ministry and life. Wisdom is needed in navigating the opportunities ahead; a Paul is needed. Find a wise, older person to walk with you.

2. Be a mentor

Pour yourself into a handful of people in whom you can invest your knowledge. They might be students, they might be volunteers. These are good choices. There might be even better choices: how about twenty-something youth workers who need your discernment and experience? Pour yourself into them. It will bring contentment.

3. Find a Barnabas

I talk regularly with two minister friends who are close to my age who are also in ministry. We are in step with one another and pray for each other, but the majority of our time is spent doing what Barnabas did for Paul—encouraging. We not only focus on going deeper spiritually, we also talk about our personal lives and the challenges of ministry.

4. Don’t be God

The need to fix people’s problems and hurts is a sign of immaturity. Believe and trust that the Holy Spirit is the comforter and helper, not you. That doesn’t mean you don’t care, you do, but it takes a maturity of spirit to get out of the way and let the Spirit have its way.

5. Define “It” and reframe “It”

If “It” means changing the focus of your ministry, by God’s grace you can do it. You can change your season and style of ministry. It may mean going from program-driven to discipleship-intensive ministry, to more delegation, from peer groups to family-based models. Consider your options: define “It” then reframe “It.”

6. Be a proactive learner

Stephen Covey speaks of being a “lifelong learner.” As I’ve grown in ministry I have found that I need to listen and learn—and look for those opportunities to stretch and grow in areas that are uncomfortable for me. That’s what mature leadership is all about. Read, ask questions and engage others in dialogue. I read a lot!

7. Keep it simple

Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Do a prayer retreat. Get silent before God. Take the Lord’s Supper. Be in God’s Word. Find your own way of worship.

8. Don’t believe the lie

We don’t age out of a job. The graying and greening of the Church go hand in hand. Sometimes our passion shifts, but age has nothing to do with it.

9. Be a team player

Ministry is a team sport. Surround yourself with good people who embody diverse gifts. Think “we.” People who allow others into their world—weaknesses and all—are rewarded.

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.
His books on Christian education include The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H).
Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans

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