Joe’s 10 Iron-clad Rules for Success In the Ministry.. Some of Which May Work


You’re new in the ministry, right?  And you want to do well, of course. You have definitely come to the right place, friend.  Pull up a chair and get ready to take notes.

Some alternative titles for these ten little gold nuggets (aka, iron pyrite) might be “How not to rock the boat.” “How to last 50 years in the ministry without creating a ripple.”  “How to please everyone and secure a good retirement.”

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, seat-belt fastened, sense of whimsy intact…..

1) You’re going to need sincerity to make it in the ministry. If you can fake that, anything is possible.

2)In any church service, the crowd will be bigger if you don’t count them.  We learned this truth from fishing. Any fisherman knows, A fish not weighed is heavier than the one that is.

3) To feel better about your sermon, do not ask your wife on the way home, “Well, what did you think?”  She will tell you, and then where will you be?

4) The typical congregation will love you more if you preach generalities about sin, lower the boom on atheists and cultists, and speak favorably about the local high school football team. Many a pastor who violated this soon found himself without a church.

5) Make changes and the whiners will leave your church.  Make no changes and the winners will leave. So, decide who you want to keep.

6) Expecting the congregation to remember your anniversary and to give Christmas bonuses is the surest path to disappointment.

7)The person hanging around your office wanting to be your best friend is your worst enemy.  Watch him/her like a hawk.

8) Using certain phrases will impress upon the audience that they are being treated to inside information.  “Now, most people do not know this, but….”  “The denomination does not want you to know this, but….”  “We Greek scholars know this word actually means….”  “I have this on good authority….”  “A friend who has been to Israel informs me….”  And the big one: “When I was working on my doctorate–the first one, not the second….”  Try to do this with a straight face.

9) Telling a critic “It’s my way or the highway” may satisfy something inside you, but it is never wise. It smacks of tyranny and makes you appear a bully.  Instead, figure out a nice way to inform them if they continue to oppose you, they are in danger of hell fire.

10) Speak well of your predecessor. And, as you have the opportunity, visit him in the state penitentiary occasionally. Report back to the congregation how well he is doing and that he sends his love.

There!  Do these things and it will all work out. Probably.

Oh.  One more thing.  Beware of smart alecks (like moi!) who have everything figured out on how to succeed in ministry, how to preach killer sermons, how to write books that will make you famous, and how to do a blog when you are, say, about to be 84 years old!

The Holy Spirit delights in breaking our rules, in establishing new patterns, and in using unlikely methods.  It’s like the wind, said our Lord Jesus. “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it came from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). He is unpredictable, iconoclastic, and always creative.

Trust Him.


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