In my second pastorate, I stayed at the church for just over eleven years. At the time, more than a decade at one church was almost unheard of. I’ve paid attention since then to pastors who stay at their church for at least ten years, and here are some traits I’ve seen in these pastors:
- They cannot deny their calling to that church. In some cases, the calling was so dramatic that the pastors could not ignore it. In other cases, the calling itself was not so dramatic – but the pastors know in their hearts that they are where God wants them to be.
- They learn not to get focused on the loud, but few, voices. Veteran pastors have learned that the opposition may be louder than it is widespread. Loud voices often die down when they learn they have little support.
- They build a strong team around them. A great staff and strong, supportive lay leaders are usually enough to keep pastors focused even when difficulties develop.
- They leave work at the church as much as possible. Ministry is not an 8-5 job, of course, but these pastors have learned how to let their burdens go as much as possible when they come home.
- They make sure they’re serving through their giftedness. That is, they do whatever they most love to do in ministry while not neglecting tasks that don’t bring them as much joy.