This list was born in the fire of experience.

Within the first six months of my pastoral ministry, I came across an intriguing list entitled, “Twenty Don’ts for Young Pastors,” by Daniel F. Roth. He had written them on the flyleaf of a book discovered after his death. The don’ts were listed alone, with no illustrations, no esoteric, theological concepts, no long discussions. But the list was so practical that I couldn’t help but think that he had learned them the hard way—through experience.

Today we have an entirely new breed of young pastors, who often serve on the staff of a large church. Though their titles may vary, these staff ministers must relate to the senior pastor.

In my first year as an assistant pastor, I, too, developed a list of don’ts (and do’s), born of the fire of my experience.


1. Don’t harbor negative feelings. You may have noticed that the man you work for is human, prone to an occasional mistake. He may make an unintentional comment that hurts; sometimes he may even treat you as an employee rather than a brother; he may be abrupt. Through it all, it is your job to forgive freely. A grudge and bitterness will work on you like a parasite, mining your loyalty to the man and the church that hired you.

2. Don’t be blinded by another’s weaknesses. When you begin ministry in a new church, you will likely be unaware of the senior pastor’s weaknesses. Don’t worry: they will appear. Sometimes, however, they loom larger than they really are, simply because of your close relationship. But seeing weaknesses in others gives us a chance to let God work unconditional love in our hearts for them.

3. Don’t be drawn into unnecessary controversy. Almost before you are settled in, some parishioners will take it upon themselves ...

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