by Thom S. Rainer
They have been at their present church at least ten years, often much longer.
They have persevered. They have served multiple generations of the same families.
They have known the highs and lows of ministry. And they have not succumbed to the siren call of greener grass churches.
I have been following these long-tenured pastors for years. And I have seen consistently seven patterns, or habits, in their lives. To be sure, these habits are not unique to long-tenured pastors. But they do seem to be most consistent among those pastors who have been at one church for at least ten years.
- They don’t skip a day in prayer and the ministry of the Word. They are truly Acts 6:4 pastors. They refuse to succumb to they tyranny of the urgent. They put prayer and Bible reading as a priority on their calendars, usually early in the morning. They are able to carry on because they are refueled every day.
- They realize gnats are gnats. So they are able to look beyond the momentary critics and nuisances. See my earlier blog post of April 3, 2017.
- They pray for wisdom. I have been both amazed and encouraged to discover how many longer-tenured pastors include the prayer of James 1:5 in their prayer lives.
- They dream big. These pastors are not satisfied with the status quo. They truly believe they serve a God who has bigger plans than we can possibly imagine in our own strength.
- They intentionally seek to see the green grass in their own churches. That helps them not to fall for the trap that the green grass is always at the next church.
- They keep an outward focus. Pastors in a maintenance mode are either miserable pastors or pastors on their way out. Long-tenured pastors really take Paul’s admonition to Timothy seriously. They do the work of the evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5).
- They take care of their families. They know their families are their first lines of ministry. In fact, they grasp clearly that they cannot lead their churches for the long haul unless they take care of their families (1 Timothy 3:5).
The longer-term pastor is a step in the right direction for greater health and more fruitful ministry.