I had the great pleasure of spending an amazing Tuesday this week in Waco with Jim Martin and our “Waco Alliance” of five preachers and an elder. This monthly mentoring group does wonders for me. I come away from these meetings re-energized for the task, rejuvenated for the work, and with a renewed sense of God’s power and blessing in my life.
(We did suffer a setback on Tuesday. Apparently, Bubba’s has gone out of business. For ten straight months we’ve eaten ten straight times at Bubba’s, a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Lorena that serves home-style cooking right off the grill. There’s nothing better than The Bomb, their signature cheeseburger, and a basket of those seasoned fries. The velvet paintings of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and, yes, of course, Elvis add greatly to Bubba’s indefinable charm. Although, admittedly, the velvet Charles Bronson in the men’s room does make us a bit nervous. But, now it’s gone. We pulled up Tuesday to an empty Bubba’s: signs gone, chairs stacked on the tables, lights out, velvet paintings adios! As a backukp, Dan’s BBQ in Hewitt was good. But it wasn’t The Bomb at Bubba’s.)
So, Tuesday, among many other things, we discussed habits and practices that make a difference in our ministries. We shared with one another the things we do regularly that positively impact our preaching and ministering in our churches. Jim offered his ten. We all chimed in with feedback and suggestions and personal anecdotes and stories. And we all resolved to pay more attention to these godly principles and practices:
Be a godly man – pay attention to my own spiritual growth; I must be a model of godliness to my church.
Manage self – do not live in reaction to my own past or to the present actions of others; I can’t control anybody but myself; and I need to do that well.
Be a student of my community and my church – be observant, pay attention to the people and the circumstances around me; what are they talking about in the hallway? what are they concerned about in the apartment complexes? what are the issues facing the schools? what are the problems in our church’s homes? I can’t be fully aware if I’m always locked up in my study.
Teach and preach for the week, but prepare for the future – “crock pot sermons” are the best ones; meditate and pray and stew on the sermons you can’t preach yet but will have to in a few months or years.
Read, read, read! – that’s how you grow
Take personal temptation seriously – always be aware that there is one who wants to destroy you; always be on guard.
Seek maturity in relationships – be Christ-like in all of your interactions with people; the things you say and do and think with others should reflect an increasing level of spiritual maturity.
Take a day off – understand that you are totally dependent on God and that the world does not depend on you.
Be present in key pastoral moments – I can’t be there for every knee surgery or mole removal procedure, it’s impossible; but I will be there for death and funerals, for discouragement and divorce, for job loss and weddings and new births and cancer; spiritual guidance is my calling, and I’ll be there fully.
Pay attention to your own body and thoughts and emotions – you’ll know when you need to slow down or speed up, hold back or let loose, speak or be still;
Preachers, do you have any other rules that you live by or regular practices that you see as paramount to your success as a minister in your church? Or something to add to one of these ten? Please share by clicking the “comments” line at the top of this post. I added three of my own to the list this past Tuesday. I’ll share them with you after the weekend.