Guest Post: Simultaneous Comfort and Discontent

This week is going to be a little different at Church Thought.  I am currently finishing up an eBook based on the church planting series, and preparing to head to Exponential (let’s connect!) next week.  In order to maintain a degree of sanity, I have asked a few friends to share their wisdom with us this week.

Today, I am excited to introduce you to Josh Tandy.  Josh is the mastermind behind Rookie Pastor, a website devoted to pastors do ministry healthy, sustainable, and sanely.  

Something happens as Rookie Pastors settle into their first ministry. Over those first few months or a few years we get comfortable.

Paychecks tend to do that.

The interesting thing is what tends to follow: discontentment. We aren’t happy with our job title or description, the church or community isn’t healthy, we wish we had better leaders around us. Simultaneously we are comfortable and unsettled. At least that’s what happened to me.

In the process we expect others to take care of our development. While we wait, we feel stuck or trapped.

To fight comfort, grow

Fight the feeling that you have arrived.

I responded to a call to ministry from God in high school. Changed my college plans. Made little as a ministry intern for two summers. Served in ministries while in college. Wrote papers, read books, and passed tests that culminated in a degree. Survived the interview process and got a church job.

Soon after I moved I started to coast. Not in the sense I didn’t work hard, but I quit growing. Mainly I quit looking to learn. I decided that the people around me couldn’t teach me and that they should listen to my suggestions. When they didn’t respond on my timeline I started to get bitter.

Be willing to let go of your presuppositions in ministry. Entertain the thought that you don’t have this figured out. That you aren’t finished.

  • Go to a different church and observe a service.
  • Learn from leaders around you.
  • Read or listen to someone you normally don’t.
  • Let one of your volunteers lead.
  • Meet with a counselor.

To fight discontentment, push

When I started to realize how stuck I felt in ministry I started a daily routine of looking at ministry job boards and entertaining any whiff of an opportunity. I was waiting for someone to throw me the perfect opportunity.

Entrepreneurs call this the “angel investor”. Willing to bankroll your startup or project with no questions asked exactly when you need it. I was trying to win the church job lottery. Waiting for an escape.

While I waited I did not honor the community or the divine call on my life. I waited for the problems to resolve. Waited for people to listen to my proposed solutions.

Don’t let your ambition become a hindrance. If you led no more than 50 people for the rest of your ministry would you be ok with that? Ambition has to be secondary to calling. Out of being faithful to our calling, ambition becomes a help.

  • Seek a mentor from your current community.
  • Take on additional responsibilities by acting and not waiting to be delegated to.
  • Serve. Clean toilets and take out the trash kind of serve.
  • Network to learn not to use.
  • Focus on where you are, not where you could be.

As I have gone through this process several times at two different churches I can tell you that I grew and developed the most when I realized I couldn’t expect others to do it for me.

I can also tell you that complacency is easier than consistency.

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