My wife Veronica and I had the honor of serving as Youth Pastors for more than 22 years. We served in small rural communities as well as mega church student ministry. What an absolute joy it was to roll our sleeves up, training leaders and making disciples of teenagers every week!
In June of 2013 we answered Gods call to step out of youth ministry and begin the process of planting a church. We officially planted our first Campus (TheCHURCH at Visalia) in January of 2014. Today we have two campuses, one in Visalia, California and another in Tillamook, Oregon.
One question that I get asked often from YP's that I talk with is, "Do you have any tips for youth guys when they transition and take a Senior Pastor Position?" Now that we have been doing the Senior Pastor thing for four years, I look back and see a lot of things I wish I would go back and do differently and a few things that I think we have done successfully, so I thought I take a the next few blogs to share a few tips based off of some of our life experience.
Three Things to "NOT DO".
1. Don't be in a hurry.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to hurry the process of becoming a Senior Leader. God has a plan for your life and the life of the church body you are going to lead. Don't be in a hurry. Master the art of serving another mans vision. Learn all of the lessons you need to learn right where you are. Don't take the first available position that seems like a fit, be patient waiting to step into the place and people God is calling you to serve.
2. Don't think you are ready.
When we were thinking of planting and pastoring, I remember telling my wife, "We have launched youth ministries from almost scratch, we have served in small and large churches, we have learned our lessons, I am ready for this". Well, you know what, it took about three weeks of Senior Leadership for me to realize ... "I was not ready". Oh, I was ready. I mean we were without a doubt doing what God had called us to to, but I was not "really ready". I wasn't ready for the weight of the call. I wasn't ready for all the needs of people. I wasn't ready for entire families to say they love me then leave the church. I wasn't ready for the buck to actually stop with me. I was ready, but I wasn't ready.
When you finally take that step and become a Senior Pastor, know that God has called you and be confident knowing, he will equip you. But, don't go in thinking, "you got this". You will be at your strongest when you allow God to have it, not you.
3. Don't go it alone.
As I write this blog, I am preparing a message for this coming Sunday out of Acts 18, where God brings Aquila and Priscilla into Apollos's life, to mentor him and help him grow where he needed to go. Working on the message has reminded me of the important role that mentors have played in my life and ministry.
Before you become a Senior Pastor, you need to have a stockpile of mentors in your life (like Apollos had) that are helping you grow where you need go.
Let me ask you a couple questions.
1 - Who are your mentors in life that you can call and they will pick up right away?
2 - Who are your mentors in life that you may not know personally, but are where you want to go?
3 - Are you humble enough to continually learn from them?
4 - Are you strong enough to listen to what they say and actually apply what you learn?
The most dangerous place you can ever be as a Senior Pastor is all alone. Find your mentors, listen to what they say and walk out their advice. You will be glad you did.