I’ve only been a Senior Pastor for a total of six months. This means, of course, that I have no access to any grand wisdom. However, I wanted to offer up five reflections on my first six months as pastor.
1. Set Your Routine
Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Most people are well-intentioned pie eaters. Some just want to spend some time getting to know the new pastor, others have spiritual needs which they want addressed immediately. Every single church member will have some expectation concerning the pastor’s time. Without a set schedule, pastors will find it difficult to salvage even a sliver of time for biblical study.
I have a set routine. Certain times are available for meetings. Other times for biblical study. Keeping track of my own schedule helps ensure that no duties are neglected. As for myself, Saturdays are protected. I’m with my family all day. Emails, prayer meetings, and events always seem to popup on Saturdays, but unless it’s an emergency, I’m not available to anyone except my wife and children. A set routine assures family time.
2. Nail Down Haphazard Habits
By “haphard habits,” I mean those habits which have some fluidity to them. Any spiritual discipline that isn’t nailed down and engrained can be forgotten easily. I find these habits the hardest to maintain.
Recently, I asked in a Church Revitalization Facebook group which spiritual discipline is most-commonly neglected. Many pastors responded that fasting was the most neglected spiritual discipline. Fasting is one of those haphazard habits. Few Christians have a set time every week for fasting. I don’t let spiritual disciplines waste away. If a year passes without memorizing a new verse of Scripture, I’m in trouble. My way of nailing down scripture memory is to record when and what I memorize. Therefore, a spiritual journal is key to nailing down haphazard habits.
3. Prioritize your Marriage
We all have a number of ministerial spinning plates to keep in the air. Our spouse shouldn’t feel like one of them. We do not consider the qualifications of 1 Timothy to be suggestions—they are foundations. Much like pastoral integrity, the marriage covenant qualifies to even perform pastoral duties. Peter says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Since prayer is the power of pastoral ministry, let Peter’s warning concerning hindered prayer sink in deep.
4. Saying “No” is Easy
Since we moved to Georgia we’ve had the occasion for several long car trips to Texas and Michigan. Thank you Waze app! With a well planned route, staying on course is easy. The only issue is the still small voice in the back of the van, “Dad, can we stop at . . . ” Can you say, “recalculating?”
When the path is clear, saying “no” is easy. Have a clear, Christ-centered plan for leading the church. Set goals. Have a vision. There are hundreds of very good things the church could do; if any one of them doesn’t line up with the vision, say “no.” Saying “yes” to side attractions is a sure way to hear “recalculating”. Recalculating the vision every month is a sure way to never arrive at your destination.
5. Members are Just People
Even the best Christians are still sinners. Congregants will lift up and tear down in the same week. As such, church members cannot be the foundation of our ministries. The Church’s one foundation is not the church itself; only Christ is a solid enough foundation to rest our ministries on.
Numbers will go up and down. Sunday School will flourish and diminish. Sermons will be strong some weeks and weak on others. Christ alone is enough to stabilize the tumultuous nature of pastoral ministry.
About the Author:
Sean Matthew Wegener was born in Michigan and grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. After moving to Texas in 2002, he was licensed into ministry at FBC McKinney. He currently serves as pastor of Summerville First Baptist (December 2018), Graduate Assistant to Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, and teaching assistant for Interim President Dr. Jeffery Bingham.
He holds a Theatre degree from Oklahoma State University (BA). After receiving a degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth (MDiv-Stewardship), he began work on a PhD-Systematic Theology at the same school.
Sean felt the call into ministry after his baptism on Easter Sunday 2000. He began preaching in 2003 in Köthen, Germany and has since preached in South Africa, England, Poland, Mexico, Romania, and Malaysia.
Sean has recently published two lessons in the Disciple6 material released from Southwestern in 2015 and presented a paper at the Southwestern region of ETS in 2017. He currently contributes a regular blog to caffeinatedtheology.com
Sean currently resides in Summerville GA, with his wife (Danielle) and three sons.