5 Things I Have Learned As a Pastor

5 Things I Have Learned As a PastorI am a young pastor, and I do not presume to think that I can offer up much worthwhile advice and encouragement to a new generation entering the ministry. I do think, however, that any amount of experience has its own level of anecdotal instruction that can be offered to anyone willing to listen.

This week, I have thought about what I have learned in my decade of formal ministry (volunteer and paid) and I think there are some things that are worth sharing. Some items being shared in this blog are a result of frustration that has helped to grow me as a minister. Other points are simply things I that have come to mind. Just know that none of them are meant to demean, discourage, or demonstrate anger. I just feel these things need to be said.

I love learning. Sometimes the learning involved pain, and other times it was a result of great joy. 

Today, I want to share 5 Things I Have Learned As a Pastor.  

People prioritize what matters

Sunday after Sunday pastors all over the world work their hardest to preach, teach, and display the Gospel in their lives. Their families often feel the brunt of the time and effort they put into sharing vision, meeting with those in need, and attending business meetings. Sometimes a pastor will give their all for a congregation who seem to look at the idea of worship as “something they will attend if they have nothing else to do”. Don’t get me wrong. Pastors are thankful that anyone shows up for worship, but we now live in a Christian culture that has prioritized other things over meeting together as was commanded of us in scripture.

Discouragement is only temporary

I’m going to let you in, behind the scenes, for a moment on what pastors talk about when they are together. Sometimes we talk about how things are progressing with the church. Other times we talk about how discouraged we are in a particular area of ministry. For some people in ministry, short seasons of discouragment end in resignation. It is easier to quit than to persevere. When discouragement comes, and it certainly will, it is always vital to lean into God and rely on His promises. The seasons of discouragement do not last forever. They can just be painful. When we tap into God’s resolve, then we find times of great spiritual wealth and ministerial progress.

There will be resistance

No matter what God has asked a person in ministry to do, resistance to that call is inevitable. Sometimes there is resistance because the author of lies is creating unnecessary conflict in the church. Other times (I am speaking to myself here) it is because personal pastoral agendas are forced and God’s will is not taken into account. Pastors are not exempt from being stubborn or having human thoughts, emotions, or actions. A consistent prayer life trains the mind and heart to more readily pick up Christ’s signals and gentle nudgings.

Lives matter to God

When looking at scripture, it is apparent that God has spent a lot of time showing humanity His love. Sure, there are times of discipline, but the way He guided the Israelites out of captivity, restored them multiple times after their transgressions. sent Himself to die, and gave us the Holy Spirit, no one can deny the energy that has gone into God’s affection for us. He calls pastors to be distributors of this love and grace. Christians in general have this call on their lives as well, and are compelled to share this message with the world. So, when someone comments that a pastor’s focus is “all about numbers”, they are actually somewhat correct. Every person matters to God, and He came to die for every single one. A pastor’s job is a response to this concept.

Often times, more energy is spent on lemurs than butterflies

Ok, so this one is a difficult topic to talk about. Now, I do not want to sound harsh or condescending, but this idea breaks my heart so I felt as if I needed to share. You may read this heading and be somewhat confused, but allow me to explain. I wrote another blog post a while ago that compared the personalities found in the church to animals that live in a zoo. Lemurs are animals that live in trees and eat berries and bugs. When there are no more berries or bugs in the tree they move on to another one that will suit their needs. Butterflies start as caterpillars, and camp out in trees or bushes. They are sheltered by the tree and allow themselves to be transformed. Often churches respond to God’s call to help those in need (in and out of the church), and sometimes it is the “lemurs” get the most attention. In the church, it is often the case that the ones that are the most helped are the first ones to leave. The church is a great place to seek transformation.  No matter the result, though, we are called to serve.

Overall, I can honestly say that God has blessed me more than I deserve. His calling on my life to participate in the transformation of souls is something that invigorates me. Ideas keep me going, and His spirit not only makes up for my inadequacies, but moves me out of the way completely. He has also given me an amazing church family.

If you are a young pastor leading a church today, I implore you to lean on that calling. Don’t quit. It is a very difficult job, and it is not going to get any easier. You are not going to make millions and you may struggle to help grow the congregation you are in. Don’t be a “corporate ladder” type of pastor and just move to the next bigger church for the nice facility and salary package. There is a large family sitting in your pews waiting to see revival, and their souls need it. Be vulnerable, and build deep relationships. What if they leave? Well, then you will be deeply hurt, but don’t run away from being hurt. God’s call means more.

-Landon DeCrastos

Where Did Great Papaw Go?

The conversation started after a few attempts of trying to reach my brother. My parents also tried, and were already stressed because of the circumstance we all now found ourselves in.  We knew we were never going to go about life as usual. Nothing was going to be the same. 

Finally, my brother picked up the phone.

Me: Rick?

Rick: Yeah?

Me: We have been trying to call you…Papaw didn’t wake up this morning. He is gone. Mom and Dad just told me. I can’t believe he is gone.

Rick: What?! How? What happened?

Me: He went to sleep last night and he didn’t wake up.

Rick: (long pause) Ok…..yeah…..ok….yeah…You know. I have peace. I have peace about this…it’s all going to be okay. So, he died last night..as in Saturday night?

Me: Yeah…awesome huh? I think he knew the whole time. He has known for a while.

Rick: Yeah…it’s exactly what he wanted. He always wanted to go in his sleep and wake up in Heaven in time to sing in the choir.

The difficult conversation was followed by laughter and rejoicing. We had just lost a giant of a human being. He was a man who walked with Jesus daily and did not compromise his faith for any earthly comfort. Jesus was more than a storybook character to him. Jesus was friend, confidant, brother, teacher, master, and king. Jesus was everything.

If you have ever know someone who can be described this way, you can understand our reaction to Papaw’s death. While it was devastating that he was gone, our hearts were full of gladness and a sense of worship. It was a sad day, but a glorious one.

We felt a loss in our hearts, but it was a different loss than we have ever felt. The pain felt like one that a person would feel when sending a loved one to deployment (obviously multiplied). We knew we would see him again and could picture him dancing, eating, and rejoicing.

It was hard to explain it to my son. “Great Papaw go?” (translated: Where did Great Papaw go?) was a question we would hear often. So, we told him the truth. Papaw went to live with Jesus. We won’t see him anymore, but he is very happy. You can imagine the rest.

What is the point of this story? Well, when a person has lived a faithful life, centered in Jesus then death is simply a right of passage. While sadness, and grief is natural and healthy, there must be acknowledgment that the ultimate mission of the individual was achieved.

I want that. When I finally leave, I want people to laugh and be inspired to dedicate their lives to that which they may have once considered a hobby. Jesus is all.

Papaw left a void that no one will fill…and that’s okay. It was for a great cause. Do I think he is looking down on me right now, smiling? Um…I am not sure. He is probably too busy serving God, singing, and doing the work he was made to do. Worship.

I thank God that I had him as one of many examples.

-Landon DeCrastos

Catching My Attention

From time to time I have the opportunity to meet new people who are involved with some ministries that have caught my attention. It is an honor to know these people and to learn about their passions and why God has directed them in the path they are going. The birth of these ministries always come about, first, because of a passion for people. The leaders are humble, but motivated. The tasks are many, but God keeps resourcing them.

Today, I want to take a break from my normal style of writing, and simply highlight a couple ministries that have caught my attention in recent days. I will do this in my blog from time to time…

1. Fair Haven Foundation– Fair Haven exists to share the love of Jesus Christ with out-of-town patients and families of patients being treated at IU Health University Hospital and IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. Fair Haven provides free, temporary housing and compassionate support to these families, creating a “haven” amidst the storm of serious health issues. I love this organization because of the love, and family oriented care they give to people who are in a situation in which they may feel alone. Visit their website at www.fairhavenfoundation.org.

2. World Renewal International– This organization is first and foremost, a church planting organization. They have a presence in 20 countries around the world in the establishment of orphanages, schools, pastor training programs, traveling evangelism, music ministry, Christian radio, and much more. World Renewal has a great child sponsorship program that focuses on children all over the world, and they send and support missionaries globally.  World Renewal is mostly volunteer led and their passion is evident. The website is www.worldrenewal.org.

Take some time and visit these websites to learn more. Pray for these organizations…pray for their growth and that God would use them for His glory.

-Landon DeCrastos