10 Things I Wish I Had Done as a Young Pastor

How to start strong in your pastoral ministry.

10 Things I Wish I Had Done as a Young Pastor

I’ve written previously about my lessons learned as a young pastor (here, here and here), but I’m thinking today about things I wish I had done back then. Here are several of them:

  1. Go on an overseas mission trip. I didn’t take my first missions trip until several years into my ministry. That means that I really didn’t challenge my church to think much about missions until much later than I should have.
  2. Find a mentor. I didn’t even know the term “mentor” back then. And, had I known the word, I probably would have given up too easily on finding a mentor if one didn’t respond quickly.
  3. Travel across my state. Even a day-long road trip could have helped me see that my little world in southwestern Ohio hardly reflected the world—it didn’t even reflect much of my state!
  4. Take more regular days off. My failure to take days off more than 30 years ago has led to the same problem now. I don’t take off enough time to relax, clear my mind and prepare to go back to the grind.
  5. Set boundaries for counseling. I assumed my job was to counsel every member until he or she overcome the problem. Consequently, I had no sense of the need to refer people, and I spent far too much time counseling.
  6. Enlist an accountability partner. I had nobody, so I lived in too much defeat over my sin.
  7. Engage older pastors. Of the multiple older pastors in my community, I knew only one—and that was because our church wanted to use their church’s baptistery. I missed out because I ignored older, wiser leaders.
  8. Schedule at least one day per month to fast. I didn’t learn that discipline until a couple of decades into my ministry.
  9. Exercise regularly. Because I didn’t do it then, I now have to work harder at it to try to stay in shape.
  10. Read the news every day. This many years later, I now know that an uninformed pastor isn’t the best equipped pastor.
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What do you wish you had done when you were a young pastor?

This article originally appeared here.

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .