12 Things Pastors Should Make a Habit—and 5 They Shouldn't
Embracing that others look to you for leadership, I advise you get in the habit of doing some things promptly, and others only after careful thought.
12 things to do right away:
Confess sins. “Keep short accounts with God,” it’s called.
Write thank-you notes.
Write notes of appreciation: “Great song Sunday," or “I hear great things about your class.”
When inspiration for a sermon or an article comes in the middle of the night, it must be recorded then or, count on it, you’ll never remember it. Keep a pad by the bedside.
When you agree to do a friend a favor—write a letter of recommendation, call on a patient in a hospital, whatever—do it immediately or you will never do it.
Jot down a story, illustration, or thought for a sermon right when it occurs to you. If you’re in the car alone, look for an exit and get off the highway so you can write it down. I’ve sometimes asked my wife to make a note for me as we drove.
Pray for someone when prompted by the Spirit. When I spot someone who reminds me of a person I knew years ago, I take that as an impulse to pray for them.
Pray for someone when you are asked to pray. Stop right then and do it.
Forgive offenses. Whether they ask for it or not.
Tell your wife how lovely she looks. Don’t wait for her to ask if that dress looks all right. Every time you think of it, tell her she is lovely.
Give your kids a hug. Let them know how special they are to you, with no condition or strings attached.
- Worship God. In your spirit, in a few words. If possible, say it out loud.
But do not do the following five things promptly. Instead, take it slow and reconsider these the next day.
5 things to rethink doing at all:
- Write a letter of reprimand or rebuke. Someone once published an entire book of letters President Truman wrote but never sent. Obviously, he must have dropped the letters into some kind of a file.
- Give someone a negative recommendation. Think long and hard about this.
- Get something off your chest. Speak the truth in love.
- Buy something expensive without telling your spouse.
- Cross an invisible line in a relationship. In many cases, this means speaking or touching in an intimate way. Not a good idea.
Pray for God's help to do what's right, right away.
I’ve prayed Psalm 141:3 (Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips) a few hundred times, and have even developed a variation for it.
Variations can go like this:
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mind; keep watch over the door of my thoughts.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my eyes; keep watch over the door of my sight.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my ears; keep watch over all that I hear.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my home; keep watch over each member of my family.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my church; keep watch over our shepherd and members.
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