One of the life-skills learned serving the Lord as a United Methodist is both the joy and angst of pastoral leadership change. Left to our own devices people prefer living in the land of UR (Usual Routine; Genesis 15). If you don’t believe it, try to move something in your sanctuary.
I was well-trained by several spiritual leaders to welcome change as a true expression of the movement of the Holy Spirit. By its very nature, an active, thriving movement of the Holy Spirit can’t stay the same.
The third Sunday of April was ‘announcement Sunday’ in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Each year, through prayer, discussion, prayer, goal-setting, prayer, evaluation, prayer, clergy appointments are made among the local churches and church organizations in each conference directed by a prayerful Bishop and a prayerful cabinet. Sense a theme here? There are many prayerful considerations in placements and moves such as retirements, newly ordained clergy, clergy growth, church growth, sabbaticals, community changes, career moves and new church starts, to name just a few. Hence the absolute necessity for intentional prayer and wise discernment.
Serving under the direction of different pastors and in different congregations has made me a better disciple of Jesus. Better at ministry. Better at life. I’m a firm believer in submitting to the authority over me. Hebrews 13:17 reminds us to, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” God has placed inside of each of His people a calling. Submitting and trusting the process has taught me much about the grace and love of our creative and awe-inspiring heavenly Father. May I never doubt how God meets the needs of His people.
The Staff-Parish Relations Committee Chairperson arrived in the empty sanctuary that Sunday just before the live-streamed service. This was my first indication that an announcement was coming. I took a deep, long breath. After presenting the Children’s Moment, I sat and waited in the empty sanctuary until the end of the service when the pending announcement would be made.
As I waited, the Lord brought to mind the wonderful lessons learned by the amazing clergy I’ve had the pleasure of serving under. Some were pastors to me and mine during the remarkable moments of life. Some are my dearest friends. Some were guides. Some shared life. All were teachers.
If you lose your joy, you lose your impact. – Dr. D. B.
Your family is your first ministry. – Rev. J. H.
Do ministry in such as a way that when your children grow up they still love Jesus and love the local church. – Rev. R. H.
“Worship on Sunday starts on Saturday.” – Dr. R. H.
Every talk must speak of Jesus. – Rev. D. H.
“God gives His children good gifts.” – Rev. R. H.
To lead people well, they must know your heart. – Dr. D. T.
Keep your connection with your home church because you will need a soft place to land and be loved when the job gets hard. – Dr. C. H.
Humility, humor, and prayer can ease the pain of cuts made by stained glass. – Rev. S. H.
What will set you apart will be your purposeful intentionality. – Rev. J. B.
“God has called you for such a time as this.” – Rev. R. H.
What are some of the lessons you have learned from the pastors you’ve served alongside?
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7