Rick Wyser, Addison, IL — – The ministry is really like any other job or profession in that time needs to be dedicated to it. If people working on a job have to work eight hours a day, then a minister should spend at least that much time in prayer, study and ministering to the needs of their people.
The number one error I see among young ministers is that in many instances they try to imitate high profile ministers rather than being themselves. God calls a person because He wants to use their unique personality. The most common mistake that leads to errors in ministry is not seeing ourselves as a servant. If we view the ministry as service, things will fall into place.
Martyn Ballestero, Albion, Michigan – Most young ministers are striving to do everything right, and I commend them. Yet there are some who have great gifts and God-given abilities that seem to be ministering with only a minimal consecration. Shallowness has a way of exposing itself. It always does.
Don’t make room for your gift; it will make room for you. That was the rule of thumb old-timers lived by and taught us as young ministers.
A couple of things that a young minister can do to avoid mistakes is listen to your pastor, watch his conduct and his life, submit to your pastor, pattern yourself after your pastor, and be willing to serve him in any church capacity.
Carlton L. Coon Sr., Springfield, MO – The number one error that I often see young ministers make is being in a hurry for “success” without establishing discipline and structure for their personal and spiritual life.
To avoid pitfalls this is exactly what I tell young preachers: 1. Don’t marry an idiot. 2. Stay out of debt. 3. Don’t try to be something you are not. 4. Live within your means. 5. Walk through doors of opportunity that have no gaudy neon signs. This means serving in places and preaching in places other more talented or connected people look at with disdain.
My current book recommendations for young ministers would be: John Maxwell – Developing the Leader Within You; Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner – The Leadership Challenge; Eugene Peterson’s trilogy of books for preachers; and my book, Master-FULL Preaching, which addresses the lost art of preaching to sinners on a weekly basis.
Marshall Clack, Acworth, GA — The number one error I see young ministers make is an attempt to circumvent “the process.” Just as there is a physical maturation process, there is also a ministerial maturation process. A few more pitfalls that young ministers should strive to avoid include not thinking more highly of themselves than they should. You are not called to become some special attraction. In other words, carry yourself as a servant and not a superstar. Another pitfall to avoid is the idea that ministry is easy. Ministry is anything but easy! Ministry offers its own distinct challenge that you will not find anywhere else in any other organization. As ministers, we are not just leading people through sales, budgets, practices, games, conferences and tournaments. We are trying to get people to heaven to spend eternity with Jesus Christ.
I think one of my earlier mistakes was being too hard on people. As a young minister, I had not lived long enough to fully know the challenges that come with juggling a marriage, a family, a job or two, adult responsibilities and the church. As an older minister who has experience now, I look back and realize I probably pushed more than I lifted. Be patient and understanding of the people you are ministering to. Appreciate their faithfulness and their unselfish service to the Kingdom. Young minister, do more lifting and less pushing.
Myron Powell, Omaha, NE – A lack of self-control is the number one mistake I see many young ministers make. Other common mistakes are slothfulness, arrogance, impatience, and lack of studying the Word (many seem to be content to hear “good preaching” rather than dig it out for themselves). Books that I would highly recommend for young ministers are Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Remarkable, Building God’s Wall, Realign, and a subscription to Expositor.
John Carroll, Skiatook, OK – We are blessed today with access to a plethora of information. With the convenience of the World Wide Web, we can draw from almost unlimited resources when it comes to building sermons. This is a wonderful thing, and we are wise to take advantage of the wealth of material that is available. But this blessing can become a crutch that we lean on, and become little more than a public speaker who deals with spiritual topics.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” Nothing can bear fruit outside the realm in which it is conceived. Exhaustive research is commendable up to a point, but what God wants us to do is deliver His Word.
A word from God comes through prayer and being sensitive to the Spirit. When I asked my very old-school pastor how I should get a message after he asked me to preach my first sermon, he looked at me sternly and said, “Pray and study your Bible.”
Thank the Lord we have the resources technology has made available to us. Utilize them. But young man, you are called to be a man of God. You don’t become one by being good with gadgets.
Daniel Stroebel, Pensacola, FL — The number one error that I often see young ministers make is lack of submission to the spiritual authority that God has placed in their life. If you will submit to your pastor and support him, you will eliminate a majority of mistakes most young ministers make.
Very early in the ministry I was overly concerned about what others thought about me and wanted to make everyone like me. I found out very quickly that I had absolutely no control in either one of these areas. So I turned my attention to His Word and worked to apply His teachings in my life and did not get caught up in the areas I could not control.
Books that I would recommend to help young ministers avoid common missteps are Brian Kinsey’s Made for More; J. T. Pugh’s For Preachers Only, Robert Martin’s Etiquette for Lay Ministers, and John Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.
Sonny Schambeau, Dallas, TX – One of the dangers that has sabotaged the life of many ministers is to be so preoccupied with reaching out to others that we fail to reach into ourselves in introspection. We must bring our bodies into subjection: “lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” One of the biggest pitfalls in ministry is the lack of accountability. Regardless of ministerial experience, one cannot expect to have authority or be influential in the lives of others without first being subjected to authority themselves. Another pitfall in ministry is improper motives. It is incumbent upon every minister to take a personal inventory to make sure that their reasons for wanting to be in ministry in the first place are purely motivated.
Probably the saddest of downfalls in ministry is moral failure. It is imperative for a minister to guard himself against any appearance of indiscretion. The temporary gratification of a moral indiscretion is not worth a lifetime of disgrace and the distrust of those who have confidence in us as ministers.