I used to be a pastor. For nearly two decades, I enjoyed the thrills, spills, chills and can't-quite-pay-the-bills of local church ministry. Now, five years after packing up my office for the final time (including two boxes of Leadership back issues), I still think about those years in the pastorate every single day. No exceptions. It's as though the word pastor is branded on my heart. And as I reflect on those 1,000 weeks in the world's most glorious, dangerous profession, I often think about what I would do differently if I had another shot at it. If I was given a ministry mulligan, here is what I'd do with it.

More collaboration, less competition

The pastoral scoreboard was always clear to me: pastors of large, growing churches were the winners. They got nicer parsonages and bigger paychecks. Instead of attending conferences, they got to speak at them. Pastors of small, struggling churches—well, God bless 'em, at least they're trying.

I hope we can keep this just between you and ...

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