I am about to write a statement that to anyone that is not a pastor or a church leader will sound insane “Being a pastor is one of the easiest places to stop growing as a follower of Jesus.” Now, to the average church member and Christian, this sounds ridiculous. How can a person who is paid to lead others in their relationship with Jesus be in a place where it is easier to stop growing. Okay, it becomes easier when you stop to think that leading people is all that we do, and in many cases we focus so heavily on that, we forget to lead ourselves. One pastor said, “the most difficult person for me to lead is myself.” So pastor, how do you know if you are in a spiritual rut? Well, you probably already know if you are or not right now, but I want to share a few reminders and challenges.
- 90% or more of your Sermon outlines can be found offline– Look, I know the debate is never-ending about pastors using the internet for their sermons. Reality is that if a high percentage of your sermon outlines are coming from the internet, it is likely because you are not taking the time to stop and study for yourself. Delegate some of that work load during the week, and study for yourself.
- You Jump at an Opportunity to Let Another guy preach– As a youth pastor, there were times I was in a rut, and in these times, I would jump at anyone if they were interested in preaching so I would not have to. It was not that God laid the person on my heart, and told me that He wanted to use them in a great way to teach my students. No, it was “I am tired of preaching, and this guy preaches and is free so I am asking him.”
- Meeting and Conversations are Filled with ideas but never action– Meetings and conversations are needed, but if nothing gets done as a result of these meetings and conversations it is likely you are in a spiritual rut.
- You do not have a clear picture of your church’s vision or direction– Pastors, you should have an idea of the direction you are taking the church. If you do not know, and cannot make up your mind you are in a rut.
- You would be fine doing something else– Best advice I can give a young person looking at becoming a pastor- “If you can do anything else, do it!” Reality is that if you are a pastor, you will want to pastor. There will be that desire.
- You are criticizing your members more than celebrating them– The worst thing you can do is sit in your office and complain about your members each week. If you do this, they likely do the same about you. Come on pastors- build up your team. See the best in people. There have been times where I have criticized, and now I have learned to celebrate them!
- You have stopped growing in your faith– This is the biggest one, because it drives the rest on the list. There have been bad days in my pastoral ministry where I was not growing in my faith. Everything about my ministry suffered because of this. I can say though that this point energizes me the most, because I am growing now more than I have ever grown before. I am pumped about this, and pastors you should be growing as well. By the way, the more you grow, the more contagious it becomes to the ones you lead!