3 Thoughts for the Struggling Pastor
If you want to overcome the mindset of the struggling pastor living paycheck to paycheck, one significant change must occur.
No, you don’t have to win the lottery or receive an inheritance from your great aunt Rosemary.
What is it? What is that one necessary change?
You have to change the way you think.
The most important thing about a person is what he thinks about. The Bible emphasized that in both the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul spilled much ink talking about the importance of the mind. Philosophers, motivational thinkers and communicators have embraced this reality.
What happens in our lives starts with what we think. We need to put in good stuff and foster what we put in. We also have to work at weeding out patterns of thinking that are not good, helpful, and true.
We see three main mindset shifts that most pastors have to overcome in order to break free of the struggling pastor model. Here they are.
1. Be open to new and innovative models of what ministry may look like.
Successful people choose to be lifelong learners, realizing there are still so many things they can learn in every new season of life.
Information abounds today, and it’s never been easier to acquire knowledge. Someone said, the only thing that will make you different five years from now than you are today are the people you meet and the books you read. In today’s culture, we can also add the things you listen to.
We all have a natural tendency to get stuck in mental ruts, where we think in the same patterns over and over – sometimes for decades. One of those patterns involves how we perceive money.
The average North American pastor has not done well financially. It’s often an accepted mindset that pastors should not expect to prosper financially and that churches should not be expected to pay them well.
Moving away from that mindset is hard for many people in the ministry.
It’s wise to build a plan – particularly as we grow older. What are some additional ways you can earn income? If you lost your current role as a pastor immediately, do you have other “tent-making” ways to make money?
You may be comfortable in your current setting – but things can change quickly. There comes a time when a church is ready for another voice. And many pastors have learned the hard way how the tide of public opinion can shift against them.
When you have a plan that you have created and developed, then you have a natural transition when those times of change come, because you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket – even then it’s an awesome basket.
The financial demographic for many churches in North America is also changing. In the coming years, more and more churches will likely not be able to afford full-time staff members. Many churches will transition to more bi-vocational and part-time staffers. We are wise to prepare for that now and be willing to innovate and be open to new ways.
2. Turn up your financial thermostat
Dan Miller shares the story about an old dog lying on a porch, lightly moaning. When a neighbor asked the owner why he moaned, the owner replied that he was lying on a nail. The neighbor asked why he didn’t get off of it. And the owner said, “I guess it doesn’t hurt enough yet.”
Many pastors have gotten comfortable with the nail of financial scarcity. And unfortunately, sometimes it takes a crisis to force them to explore their options.
We are wise to learn about money, what creates wealth, and how to use our skill set to make more income. Sometimes we think it is wrong to want more or expect more.
Yes, we need to practice contentment, but at the same time, we are wise to try to maximize our abilities. We can accept where we are physically but at the same time make plans to improve our physical health.
You can explore what financial tools will help you achieve what you believe God wants you to have.
For just about every other profession, if someone makes plans to take another job or pursue another venture to potentially increase their income, we applaud them. But in ministry, we often look at that through a negative lens.
It requires a mindset shift.
3. Expect to do something different in order to get different results.
Don’t keep doing the exact same thing.
The church has embraced the status quo – staying the same – for a long time. As the culture changes, we often value our churches not changing.
However, to follow the Lord in these changing times, we have to learn the difference between the things that should be preserved versus the things that must change.
If I’m doing life the same way I was five years ago, that probably should trouble me. Growth involves change, learning new things, trying new ventures, and embracing new habits.
As I look out three to five years from now, I should expect to learn new ideas and new ways of doing things that will help me get from where I am to where I’d like to be.
Our best days are in front of us. Changing our thinking will create movement in our lives toward worthy goals.
Click here to hear our entire podcast on 3 Mindset Shifts Pastors Need to Embrace.
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