SBTS profs on first pastorate: Chuck Lawless

Communications Staff — September 4, 2009

This is the third post of a seven-part series running each Friday. Chuck Lawless serves as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary. Lawless has years of experience in pastoral ministry. Lawless blogs at Biblical Church Growth.

First position/length:  Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Harrison, Ohio. Two years.

Early mistakes/lessons: My worst early mistake was thinking that I was somehow supposed to solve all issues, fix any problems, heal any wounds and lead the entire city to Jesus just because I was a pastor. I almost burned out before I was 21 years old. From that hard lesson, I learned two simple truths that I should have already known:

1. I’m not the Messiah and

2. God’s people are incredibly forgiving and loving.

That small congregation loved me when I failed, stood beside me as I was learning and forgave me when I admitted my mistakes.

Words of wisdom: Five pieces of advice:

1. Ask God to give you a mentor.  Look for an older man in ministry whom you trust, and seek his advice and prayer support.  Always be a learner at the feet of someone who has already walked where you are now walking.

2. Learn to pray.  Read books on prayer, listen to sermons about prayer, find a prayer partner, do Bible studies on prayer — do whatever it takes to learn how to pray.

3. Live in the Word. It sounds like a cliché, but reading and loving the Word really does make you a better pastor.

4. Love the people.  No church is perfect, and no church will ever live up to the ideal you set in seminary.  Some people will struggle with your leadership.  Others will not grow spiritually as quickly as you want them to grow.  Most will not care how many degrees you have.  But, they are still God’s church whom He loves.  Some of the greatest people in the world are in God’s church — look for them, and count it a privilege to lead them.

5. Keep good records. My pastoral mentor, Jack Tichenor, challenged me to keep records of marriages, baptisms, funerals, visits, meals, trips, conventions, articles — everything you do in ministry.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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