It's been nearly eighteen months since I became the pastor at Memorial Baptist Church and wow have I learned a lot. The purpose of seminary was to train me in the Bible which I'm thankful for but there are some practical lessons about leading and working with people that can only be learned on the job. There are great books and conferences out there that will help but ultimately you just have to jump in, trust in God's grace, and walk according to the Word. Thankfully I have a church with many patient and gracious people. They have encouraged me along the way and been patient when I've made mistakes. There have been days I'd never want to re-live but I sure am glad I lived them (and lived through them).
The biggest lessons learned are first and foremost humility. That's a lesson you never stop learning. The second big lesson learned (which I've still got a long way to go on) is discernment in shepherding. Sometimes you have to prod the sheep forward and sometimes you have to nurture them along more slowly. Learning when to push and when to pause requires a lot of prayer and a lot of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I was greatly affirmed recently with an article by a former professor and mentor Jim Hamilton who now teaches at Southern Seminary and pastors in Louisville. This is a worthy read for any pastor needing encouragement and any church who is being led by a new pastor.