Do the basics. You nothing without the basics. So much of success in life in general, and leadership in particular, is merely doing the basics. There is a large market for sharing the latest leadership hack, trick, or steroid which will make things better or cause your church to grow. It won’t happen. Anything good in life takes hard work and hard work is built upon the basics. For pastors, this means studying the Bible and praying. Those are the basics of pastoral ministry. We do not move beyond this. Yet oftentimes, we jettison time in the word and prayer for producing content. Especially during this time of stay-at-home orders, we can deceive ourselves into thinking that “engagement” on online platforms is the most important thing we can be doing. It is not.
The most important things pastors can do right now is pray and study the Bible. I’ve been convicted of this principle: I have no business being a pastor if I don’t pray every day. I mean, how could someone pastor unless they are going before the Lord every day? To my shame, I have always struggled with prayer. I still struggle with prayer. To that end, I created a literal checklist for myself to make sure that I am praying every day. I know that checklists are apparently the bastion of legalism according to some pastors. But what if there was something worse out there than a checklist? NOT PRAYING is worse. So I have been faithful in prayer (not necessarily great; I still suck at prayer but at least faithful) for the last 40 plus days.
Do the basics. You cannot give what you do not have. If pastors expend incredible energy connecting people to the Lord, but are not connected to the Lord for themselves, is it worth it? Is it worth gaining the whole (ministry) world, but losing your own soul? If pastors constantly teach the word but aren’t ardently studying the word, we will burn out. The plain fact is that even in this time we pastors have wayyyyy more time to study the Scriptures than anyone else in the congregation. Are we doing the basics? Don’t get caught up in the hype: online presence is overrated. Let the Instagram influencers give their daily, vapid positive thinking thoughts. Those don’t matter in the long wrong. Deeply study the Scripture and give the truth of God to people.
The Old Testament has been around for like 4,000 years. It will probably be around for least 4,000 more if the Lindy effect is true. So stay anchored to what will persist and persist yourself. I’m writing this to myself, not to you out there per se.