Invariably seasoned and successful pastors who train for a second vocational career as an intentional interim pastor will say, “Why didn’t they teach me this in seminary?” or “Why didn’t someone tell me this thirty years ago?”
It’s not their fault.
Seminaries can’t teach you everything you need to know about ministry. In fact, they can’t teach you much at all about ministry. You’re spending all your time learning Greek paradigms, Hebrew grammar, medieval theology and what to do with your hands when you preach.
Here are ten things you won’t learn in seminary. Remember them.
- Ministry is like working on a crab boat: the injury rate is 100%.
- Ministers are like snow flakes: each one is unique.
- Ministry is like the lottery: success is not guaranteed.
- Spiritual growth is like sculpting: life chisels out what doesn’t belong.
- Colleagues are like teammates: they aren’t opponents because they play different a position.
- The sermon audience are like children: shiny things easily distract them.
- Sermons are like math: if people can misunderstand, they will.
- Your wife is like a drill sergeant: she can make you or break you.
- Church leaders are like a practice squad: happy to cheer you on but afraid to get in the game.
- Compliments on your ministry are like eye drops : harmful if swallowed.
What have you learned about ministry that wasn’t taught in seminary?
Update 1/31/2013 - James Cotten adds this gem:
You leave the packing boxes for your books in the office.
Update 2/1/2013 - Belinda Koenig has another great insight:
To run the other way when an argument breaks out over which way the forks go in the dishwasher – tines up or down.
There have been so many excellent additions by my friends and colleagues at the Interim Ministry Network that I need to add them here, en masse.
- Steven Jewett: Pay attention to rolling eyes
- Rob McFarlane: Nothing matters quite as much as you think it does
- Tom Holsag: Even an interim pastor needs to take time to establish good relations
- Eleanor Scarlett: It takes time to be accepted in the community
- Eleanor Scarlett: Take your time, build up trust as you get to know them over tea, coffee, pies and more pies. (I like that one!)
- Bill Tuck: There are no 40 hour work weeks.
- Bill Tuck: Your sense of call sustains you doing difficult times.
- Bill Tuck: If your staff is not a team, then you have a real mess instead of ministry.(trenchant and true!)
- Bill Tuck: Preaching alone cannot build a church.
- Bill Tuck: Lay people long for being equipped for ministry.
- Bill Tuck: Make friends with fellow ministers. We all need support groups.
- Bill Tuck: Your education is never finished. (paraphrased)
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