Thirty-nine years is a very long time to serve in one church. However, now that the years have passed, they seem to be almost a pleasant dream, full of wonderful memories. We had our problems, of course, but the worst of them were overshadowed by God’s blessings.

 

Although I never prepared for a preaching ministry and never intended to be a pastor, the Lord put me in the pulpit in 1964.

 

There are many things that God used to enable me to have an effective ministry right up to the end of my time as senior pastor. Let me share with you just a few in the form of entreaties.

 

Preach the Word

A large congregation can be built with little attention given to the Word of God, but the Bible must be primary in order to build a solid fundamental church. While some pastors have more sermon ideas than they can ever develop into messages, that was not the case for me. I believe the Lord performed three miracles for me every week, for He never left me without something to give to my people. I am living proof that a pastor does not need to be a great preacher to be effective.

 

While I did some expository preaching, I usually felt more comfortable with topical messages. A number of university and seminary Bible professors, including some of my former teachers, were in our congregation. I used to wonder why they came, but decided it must have been that they studied such deep things of the Word during the week that they wanted something simple on Sunday. Although I preached hundreds of messages on the person and work of Christ, I believe that if I had the opportunity to do it over again, I would give even more attention to Him.

 

Keep finances under control

Paul, speaking of the handling of money given by the churches of Macedonia, says in 2 Corinthians 8:20-21, “Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance [the offering] which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Many a pastor has had his ministry in a church cut short because of improper handling of funds. The cause could be a lack of accountability, misappropriation, overspending, or outright thievery. Large building campaign debts are among the main reasons that pastors willingly or unwillingly leave churches.

 

It is imperative to have a budget and to follow it. The congregation should have a voice in any deviation, even those caused by emergencies. If financial problems can be avoided, many other problems will be avoided as well.

 

Watch your relationships

Most men who leave the ministry do not leave for doctrinal reasons but because of moral failure. Well-meaning pastors often develop inappropriate relationships with women within the context of ministry. Often this downfall comes about through counseling sessions. Counseling without getting emotionally involved is difficult, and runaway emotions often lead to immoral entanglements. Paul tells us about proper relationships that pastors should have with ladies in their congregations: “The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2).