What’s it called when a new pastor arrives at a brand new church and has so much to learn? Oh yeah, that’s right…the learning curve. New place. New ministry. New joys. New challenges. Same truth – so much to learn.
The first year or so is what I call the transition period. During this time the learning curve is steep and the climb is challenging. You are moving your family. Learning a new organization. Attending a new church. Getting to know new coworkers. And leading new people.
During this transition period I have discovered an intense desire to be a better leader and pastor. My advice? Capitalize on the new desire to learn and grow. Learn from the mistakes of the past. Try not to repeat them. Use what you’ve learned before as the foundation for future leadership.
1. Read more. Read all kinds of books from all sorts of places. Books on theology, leadership, biography, and all sorts of things. Although I’ve never been one for reading fiction I hear it’s good for you too. Read books that challenge you, encourage you, teach you, and inspire you.
Books I’ve recently read:
- Kingdom Man: Every Man’s Destiny, Every Woman’s Dream, Tony Evans
- Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, Kenneth Keathley
- Church Giving Matters: More Money Really Does Mean More Ministry, Ben Stroup
- QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life, John Miller
- FIrst Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church, Mark Waltz
- The Circlemaker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, Mark Batterson
Books I’m currently reading:
- How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, Jim Collins
- Visionary Parenting: Capture a God-sized Vision for Your Family, Rob Rienow
Books I will read soon:
- Five-Star Church: Serving God and His People with Excellence, Toler and Nelson
- The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change, Jason Jennings
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg
- Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt
2. Listen more. Listen to leaders. Listen to preachers. Listen to business experts. Listen to theologians. Stop acting like you know it all. You don’t. Take some time to listen. You would be amazed how much you can learn if you shut your mouth and open your ears.
3. Talk more. Talk to more people. Talk to people who are “above” your stage of ministry. Talk about more things. Ask more questions. Take notes. Learn and grow. Take time to pour into others as well. One of the best ways to learn is to articulate answers to questions form others who want to learn from you.
4. Grow more. I don’t know how else to say it. You must grow more if you’re going to lead better. You must grow – spiritually, relationally, emotionally, physically. Growth doesn’t happen by accident. Growth is intentional. Atrophy happens when good intentions never translate into action. Be intentional. Grow more. In every area possible.
5. Relax more. Nope. You didn’t read that wrong. I said relax. If you constantly worry over ministry you’re basically telling God that you think He can’t handle it. Relax. Chill out. Learn to let go. If you don’t have an “off switch” you’re in big trouble. You’ll burn out, fade, and fizzle.
I hope this helps you. I know the learning curve can be a challenge from time to time. Believe me – I know. I pray for pastors who embark upon a new journey and face this steep learning curve. May you grow through this time and may you bring God glory.