Five years ago today I was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry.
That number is, of course, paltry in comparison to the time many shepherds have spent tending Christ's flock. And my wisdom, if it can even be labeled as such, is nothing compared to that of those men. But, in honor of this anniversary, I thought I would share five observations I've made during the last half-decade, especially for those seminary graduates who will be entering the pastoral office this summer.
1. "Change then teach" works much better than "teach then change." If you want people to embrace the right practice, institute the right practice, then praise them for doing the right practice when you teach about said practice. If you try to teach them to abandon the bad practice while they're still practicing the bad practice, they won't think the bad practice is bad enough to stop practicing because you're still letting them practice it.
2. When people get angry at you, 80% of the time it has nothing to do with you. They're just mad at God. But that still leaves 20%.
3. Sin makes pastors angry, which tempts us to structure our sermons like this: Proclaim the Law, then figure out how to make the Gospel fit. Unless the text commands this, do the inverse.
4. People who don't think they need a pastor will never care about you, even if they like you. But when people have desperately needed you to be a pastor to them, and you have been, they will never stop loving you.
5. Remember to pack a lunch.