Pastor, there’s one thing that only you can do. And it’s one thing that will open the way for your church to become healthier and stronger. This one thing you must do is best captured in the word “GROW.” In fact, pastor, I believe that God’s plan for the health and growth of your church starts with you and your commitment to grow things around you.
Now, it takes time to grow. God didn’t establish His kingdom as a dot.com industry that would spring up overnight in sudden success. Instead, God frequently takes us to the farm to understand His kingdom. And He speaks about working for a harvest. Now, I’m a city kid—I can hardly tell one end of a pig from the other—but I spent enough time on my grandfather’s farm to understand that agricultural growth takes time. And, it also takes a commitment to what we are growing.
Pastor, if you’re church will be healthy, the first focus for growth must be YOU!
You must have a plan for your own growth. Growing churches are always led by growing pastors. In fact, only on rare occasions will the people I lead grow beyond me, and if they do, we will probably have a problem.
I realize that the demands of ministry and the expectations of people can overwhelm our calendars and our good intentions, but I am fully convinced that your determination to grow in knowledge, understanding, and in your relationship with God is the single greatest way you can impact the futures of those you lead.
What is that plan? For me, establishing regular times for reading has been a growth plan for more than 25 years. I block off 30 minutes to an hour each morning and again each afternoon to devour many different types of books that can grow me in many different areas. Books on my iPad fill the hours I spend on planes and in airports because I know that everything I learn can increase my capacity as a leader.
I realize that reading may not be in your wheelhouse. But what about taking a class or two at the local college or getting your hands on some leadership videos, or taking up the study of history or counseling or some other subject that interests you. The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to “Study to show himself approved…”
I am grateful for credentialing processes and the course work available to us to help us prepare for ministry. But if you think that completing the ordination level means your learning days are done, think again! Yes, you can learn a lot by experience, but you can also skip a lot of hard experiences by learning from the wisdom and insights of others.
Pastor, be intentional about growing yourself! No one else can do that for you!
It’s hard to imagine, but the one area of growth that suffers the most for many of us is in our own relationship with God. As a pastor, I was part of a number of church functions involving food. In fact, some of my people thought that Maranatha was Latin for “Let’s Eat!”
But here’s what I’d do at church dinners. I wouldn’t eat. I’d run around making sure everyone was eating and having a good time. People would wave me to the front of the line and I’d wave them off, knowing my job wasn’t to be served, but to serve. Many times during clean up, I would realize that I had attended a church dinner and failed to eat.
And there were times when I acted the same way with spiritual food. I poured my best energy into feeding them, studying God’s Word for their benefit, reading and writing to target their needs. And I came to the end of more than a few days, realizing I had stayed close to His book all day long and never nourished myself in its truth.
I came to realize that just as my people wanted to wave me to the front of the line at the church dinner, they needed me to eat first from God’s Word so the overflow of my own journey could nourish theirs. Like my friend Garland, they would sit and listen each week, and they would know if I was growing.
Pastor, you’ve got to GROW yourself—you’re the only one who can. Would you do that to see your church be healthy and strong?