Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

12 things I would do differently if I were starting ministry again


This month, I celebrated 43 years in full-time ministry. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this work that long — maybe because most of the years have been great joys. Here are some things I would do differently, though, if I were starting again:

1. I would pray more. Frankly, my current interest in prayer really grew after I had been a pastor for several years. My pastoring years would have been different had I spent more time on my knees. 

2. I would counsel less. I thought I had to have the answers for my church members, regardless of what their issues were. Now, I would much more quickly refer my members to counselors more trained than I. 

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

3. I would delegate more. I burned out more than once simply because I was involved in everything. I couldn’t fathom things happening without the pastor involved, so I stayed involved. 

4. I would spend more time outside my office. I tried my best to do evangelism, but it was easy to get cocooned in the church world. Now, I realize I won’t reach lost people if I don’t know any. 

5. I would say “thank you” to my wife more often. I had served as a pastor for 10 years before marriage, but Pam changed everything for me. I realize more every day that she is God’s gift to me. 

6. I would study more for my sermons. I really began to dig deeply into sermon preparation only after several years of my pastoral ministry. Seminary — particularly, the years of my doctoral work — was huge for me in this arena.  

7. I would seek ways to be more connected to my community. In my last year of full-time pastoral ministry, I also served as a substitute English teacher in our local freshmen school. I would do that again (in addition to other means to get connected) simply so I know what’s going on in my community. 

8. I would spend more time with the senior adults in the church. I suppose that might be because I much better understand them now that I’m 63 ... but I do realize now more than ever how much wisdom there is in that group. 

9. I would listen more to members wiser than I. Those folks were typically deacons or other staff members. I look back and see too many times when I missed it as a leader because I didn’t listen.  

10. I would take days off and always take vacations. I seldom did either one, especially when I was single. That was not wise. 

11. I would take a mission trip at least once a year. My heart for the nations didn’t develop until years after I stepped away from full-time pastoral ministry. I deeply regret that fact now. 

12. I would not allow criticism to distract and discourage me. At times, criticism ate at my soul because I carried the burden rather than give it to God. I pray I would not do that now. 

Veteran pastors, what would you do differently?

Originally published at Church Answers. 

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. A conference speaker and author or co-author of more than ten books, including Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion