There are a million things you should know as you prepare to go into ministry. Here are seven that have been on my mind this week.
1. Unlike your professors, your congregation will not care what commentators you’ve read and whether or not you agree with them. Ever.
2. Some of the people you will minister to will make you feel uncomfortable, would never fit in with your Beer and Theology Club, and will kinda sorta annoy you. Part of the pastoral learning curve is developing a cozy relationship with awkwardness.
3. As you interview at churches, remember that a healthy church is not a problem-free church. Healthy churches love the Bible, and realize they don’t measure up to it. They engage in honest, heated, and, above all, prayerful debate about the best ways to move forward. Then they move forward with tenacity and humility, for God’s glory. (And then they remain not problem-free.)
4. You will be on call 24/7. But you won’t be. Emergencies are rare by definition. Expect to spend your evenings with your family. Then when you can’t, it won’t be as hard on them.
5. Prayer is more difficult and more important than you think.
6. You need to get the idea out of your head that, “Once I’m a pastor, I’ll finally be able to study whatever I want.” Biblical study, what guild calls sermon prep, is a fraction – a big fraction, but a fraction nonetheless – of how you spend your time. Chasing down theological minutiae is a very small fraction of how you spend your time.
7. Yes, it is worth it to have your biblical languages sharp in ministry. Push past the parsing stage to the point where you can read the stuff. Proficiency in biblical languages makes your sermon prep time more efficient and substantive. Not more cumbersome. (If you don’t have biblical languages yet, you can learn Greek for cheap and Hebrew for free).
There. Now you’re down to 999,993 things you need to know as you prepare for ministry.