Over the past 25 years that I have been in pastoral ministry, I have gleaned much wisdom from colleagues in ministry. Some of them are enjoying retirement, others have gone on to their eternal reward, and some are still in active pastoral ministry. In particular, I remember some of the pithy wisdom they have passed on to me. I have written them down over the years, I am pleased to pass some of them on to you.
-We will never be able to understand the Gospels until we admit that we are the Pharisees that Jesus confronts.
-A congregation wants to know that its pastor sees his or her job as more than a job. They want to know that it is a calling.
-A church does not need the whole congregation in agreement to move forward in ministry; it does, however, need the support of the leadership.
-Pastors do not cast a vision for the congregation. A pastor helps the congregation catch the vision God has given to it.
-Pastors should allow ministries to fail rather than pick up the responsibility that is the congregation's. Too many pastors enable parishioners to neglect their duties.
-Effective pastors know when to speak and when to keep silent.
-It is not enough for pastors to tell their congregations what they should be doing; pastors need to model ministry for their parishioners.
-Never preach in the second person plural (you); preach in the first person plural (we).
-Effective preachers utilize humor in the sermon, but they also know its limits. Sunday morning preaching is not Friday night at the comedy club.
-Allow people to employ their gifts, graces, and passions in ministry. Do not push them into a job they are not interested in, even though you need the position filled.
-Parishioners want to know that their pastor is human, but they don't want to know too much information on exactly how their pastor is human. There is a fine line between disclosure and exposure.
Any additional short and pithy sayings of wisdom are welcome.