Every occupation has a set of rules that everyone needs to know to be successful and ministry is no different. You may find that your church or denomination has more than the 5 listed here, but as a general rule here are 5 unspoken rules every pastor should know to be successful in ministry.
There are only so many hours in a day and in a week and pastoral ministry seems to be never-ending. For this reason, it is often easy to skimp on personal Bible study because as a pastor you are already studying for your sermon, for a Bible class, for a small group, and probably with people individually. But these are all cases of studying scripture so that you can pour into the lives of those under your care. A good pastor also needs time when they are being poured into. One way this happens is through your own personal Bible study.
Every church has at least one sacred cow — some activity or object that the church has always done, used, or been a part of. Sometimes it is necessary to kill the sacred cow for the sake of healthy growth, but this should not be done lightly. Paying attention to what your church’s sacred cows are will help you to understand what is important to your church and, if the time ever comes, can help you to replace the sacred cow with something more beneficial.
Here is a hard truth for all pastors to know and live out: you cannot do it all. You are going to need minister leaders to help ensure the mission of the church successfully functions. To this end, you need to equip your leaders and empower them to do the work before them. Equipping and empowering is important because if you only pick one, you will still end up micro-managing your leaders in some way. Having trustworthy ministry leaders you have equipped and empowered to do serve the church will take some work off your plate and allow you to better serve your church in ways that are life-giving to you and the church.
Even after you’ve equipped and empowered your ministry leaders, there will still be times when they need a little extra care and attention. In these moments, it is good to be available to them to offer advice, resources, or even a second set of hands. This not only helps your ministry leaders accomplish their tasks, it reminds them of your care for them.
This is a truth we all know, but are prone to forget. But just as Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, pastors are not above getting our hands dirty for the sake of others. This may mean mopping the floors, taking out the trash, or some other menial task. It’s easy as a pastor to act as if all the other things you have going on in a given week are more important than these tasks, but being a servant leader means that we are never above serving others, even if that means rolling up our sleeves and cleaning some toilets.