Making mistakes in ministry and how to avoid them

You will make mistakes in ministry so go ahead and prepare for them now. If you think you will not make mistakes you have an issue with pride and the Lord will soon take care to bring you down a notch or two. Best to get used to the idea before that happens.

If you are in a church where you are not free to make mistakes or where you are unfairly or harshly judged for making mistakes, you ought not be in that church. Mistakes are how we learn so they are necessary. If the church you serve can’t live with that, let them call a perfect pastor and let the Lord lead you someplace where you can pastor human people who act like humans.

That is, pastor somewhere where people admit that they make mistakes and so let other make them, too.

I find that the number of mistakes I make for which I have to apologize dramatically decreases when I stick to what I know.

I know a little finance because I did that for a while.

I know management because I did that for years.

I know Scripture, theology, and ministry because I am trained in these and have done them for years.

On other things I am no more an expert than anybody else and in many areas I know much less than others.

So, for example, when we’re looking for a roofing contractor, I don’t have to have my way and I don’t even have a way because that’s not my area of expertise. I’m happy to defer to someone else’s judgment, not to pass the buck, but because I don’t have to know everything.

So learn humility. You can’t be an expert in everything and you don’t need to be an expert in everything. And when people find out you aren’t a bossy know-it-all, they’ll be much more apt to follow your lead when it comes to the things that you do know about.


About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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