Grindstone panelists discuss pastoral ministry
“Ministry is probably the most exciting thing a person can be called to do,” said Pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church Terry Turner to an audience of Southwestern students and faculty at a Grindstone discussion, Nov. 7. Discussing various topics relating to pastoral ministry, Turner was joined by Pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church Nathan Lino and Pastor of First Baptist Church Euless John Meador. Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology Tommy Kiker moderated the Grindstone discussion.
Reflecting on more than a decade of ministry, Lino said, “Good preaching requires massive amounts of self-discipline and grinding. There is no substitute for hard work when it comes to preaching. Preaching classes need to be the hardest place in seminary.”
He continued by acknowledging the need for more pastors to be better trained in how to balance leading with tenderness and firmness. “You, as a pastor, have to have the discernment to know the difference between a high-maintenance member that you have to love and care for regardless and someone who is damaging the church,” Lino said.
Noting the high pastoral turnover rate in many churches, Kiker asked panelists to discuss the blessings of long tenure but also offer cautionary advice for those entering a long tenure in a single church. Turner, who has served in pastoral ministry for 25 years (with 18 of those years at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church ), shared how remaining with the church he planted for so long has enabled him unique opportunities to minister to many of the same people.
However, he cautioned, “a calling is essential to staying anywhere for any period of time. Scripture tells us to make our calling sure. [Ministry] is not something you walk into haphazardly.”
Regardless of the length of service at a single church, Turner continued, pastors must be humble, patient and kind, but also stand firm in the Word of God. “When you put forth the Word of God, people understand that you have spoken what God would have had you speak,” Turner said.
Lino then cautioned new pastors to not place too much importance on tenure. “Not everyone will be called by God to go to one place for a really long time, or to just two places in our entire ministries,” Lino said. “So I don’t think we should hold that to a standard of if you don’t do that, you’ve somehow failed or missed out on the blessing of God. But I do think that if God lets you stay somewhere for a long time, it really is a tremendous blessing.”
Both Lino and Turner planted the churches in which they currently pastor. In contrast, Meador joined a church with a long history as a Southern Baptist church. Meador discussed starting in a church with a rich history, encouraging young pastors to be mindful of the church’s past, particularly in the first years of pastoral ministry.
“One of the things I have learned along the way is that you have to come in and build relationships,” Meador said. “You can’t really lead with depth of trust and communication without relationships.” To summarize, he explained that new pastors must honor the past, strengthen the present, and then pursue the future.
Addressing the challenges of balancing the numerous responsibilities a pastor has, all the panelists agreed that one’s family takes priority over ministry, and the management of a demanding schedule requires intentional planning. Meador, who recognized the temptation to commit to too many things in ministry, described this challenge in his first years of ministry.
“The mistakes I made in the first church I pastored was thinking I had to do everything myself. I wanted to pastor well and I had good motivation, but I didn’t understand multiplying myself,” Meador said. “I learned that you have to set your own schedule, and I mean that in the way of priority. You determine the number of hours you spend with your family.”
Expanding on the topic of workflow management, Lino addressed an issue he says is a downfall of many pastors: laziness. “The Bible is clear: laziness is demonic,” Lino said. “If you struggle with being motivated to work, you have a sin stronghold in your life that you need to bring to Christ and deal with.”
Following their discussion, panelists fielded questions from the audience on a variety of ministry topics. In addition, the evening featured free pastoral ministry resources for those in attendance, including books, dress shirts and suits.