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Lutzer: 5 Principles for Pastoral Success

18 January 2010

In his book Pastor to Pastor: Tackling the Problems of Ministry., Erwin Lutzer describes five principles for pastoral success: image

  • Praying is more important than preaching.
  • Preaching is more important than administration.
  • The family is more important than the congregation.
  • Faithfulness is more important than competition.
  • Love is more important than ability.

Note that he does NOT say that preaching, administration, the congregation, competition or ability are UNimportant. He simply says that praying, preaching your family, faithfulness and love are MORE important. 

I will confess that when I have not been my best in ministry it is because I was out of balance in one (or more!) of these areas.

I remember telling myself, “You’re ALWAYS going to be out of balance in one area or the other.  It is just important that you not STAY out of balance in that area forever.”  But I’m not sure that that statement was healthy.  It gave me permission to stay “temporarily” out of balance.  And temporary became long term.

I remember in Bible College having an older (at least he seemed older at the time) and very successful minister coming and talking about planning an evangelistic revival (we did that sort of thing in the 60’s & 70’s).

And he gave us this multipage list of tasks and events to have in preparation for that. 

OK.  But he also commented that he required all staff people to cancel ALL days off for the 6-8 weeks leading up to the revival.

And no one outwardly challenged him. To do so probably would have seemed “lazy” or “uncommitted.” 

“I’d rather burn out than rust out.” was our mantra.

Today I realize how out of balance that man was and how out of balance was the modeling he was doing for us.

I learned a lot of unhealthy habits early in ministry. 

If you are young in ministry:  watch every habit you develop.  Question every priority along scriptural lines.  The attitudes you develop when you are young you will carry with you for a very, very long time.

Attitude, Church Growth, Habits

One Comments to “Lutzer: 5 Principles for Pastoral Success”

  1. I was an active UMC Local Pastor for 15 years and early on discovered these 5 principles. I copied them and hung them on the wall in my study and read them many times. The one that impressed me the most was number 3. The family comes before the congregation. Recently a fellow clergy said he was struggling because his son in Philadelphia was releasing his first album and wanted him to come. At the same time someone is his congregation had a loss of a family member and he didn’t know what he should do. I told him about this principle and the next day he called and thanked me for ministering to him. He was going to be with his son. A few days later I had a similar situation and while struggling with it God said “Practice what you preach.” I too went with the family. I will pass this on to other clergy and some laypeople now that I have located it again.

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