5 Things Young Pastors Should Know
By: Jay Mitchell
It’s an honor to work with hundreds of pastors around the country, many of which are young pastors at thriving churches. Being a young pastor in a growing church can be exciting but also overwhelming. I’ve been there! I was the Executive Pastor at a rapidly growing church in my early 30’s. It was exhilarating and exciting as we saw people come to the Lord. However, it was also hard to slow down and learn to say no.
The overall health of the church depends upon the health of its staff members. Many young pastors are consumed by the day-to-day operations of shepherding a growing church that they may neglect their emotional health.
Here are five things I wish I’d known as a young pastor that will help you maintain your own emotional health and also the health of your staff.
1. Accountability - Find accountability partners outside of the church where you serve. Find a personal pastor outside of your own ministry that you can talk to about challenges you may face. Ministry can be difficult because your closest friends are often your coworkers, and your mentor may also be your boss. Finding a confidant outside of your church will enable you to healthily process struggles you may face.
2. Counsel - Don’t be afraid of counseling. Many people seek counseling during a crisis situation. However, seeking counsel when you’re healthy will help avoid emotional crisis. Bad habits are set early, so seek wise counsel as a young guy or gal to develop good habits early.
3. Community – Surround yourself with friends and mentors who are involved in your church but not on staff. This will help you gain a healthy perspective of the church’s potential pressure points from a layperson’s point of view.
4. Learn to Say No – This is one of the most difficult things to learn. Over committing yourself will exhaust you sooner than you think. As pastors, we say yes to things for both healthy and unhealthy reasons. Saying yes to a new ministry within the church could absolutely be healthy. However, saying yes simply to gain more responsibility, feel needed, or be promoted could be unhealthy. Have a clear sense of what your job is and what your job isn’t. Evaluate your reasons for saying yes or no before you commit. Figure out what only you can do and delegate everything else.
5. Know Thyself – Discover what your gifts are and what environments enable you to thrive. Personality profiles like the Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, DISC, and Strengths Finder are helpful. Take these assessments as a team and discuss what makes each team member unique. The better you understand who God has made you, the more you are comfortable in your own skin and feel free to be you!
These are just five initial ways to set yourself up for long-term success as a young pastor. What lessons have you learned in your pastoral ministry that you wish you'd known in the beginning?