I just have to tell somebody about this week! I was blessed to spend Monday-Wednesday at Leadership Network in Dallas as part of their Next Generation Pastors Network. The two-year experience is designed to address issues facing young pastors leading large churches. The idea is, get together twelve people that can add value to the experience, bring in three amazing mentor pastors (for this session—Gene Getz, Larry Osborne and Toby Slough), and work together to bless the Church for the next generation. Those of who read this blog very frequently know I am a ministry nerd. I hold out hope that heaven may be discussion about the church’s potential and how to get there.

When I wasn’t at Leadership Network, I was getting together with old friends in the DFW area and seeking to raise some money for New Vintage Church. One of those conversations was likely the last one I will have this side of heaven with my dear friend, Ray Hardin—who is within a few months of finishing His race. He is the Ray whose prayers I post on the blog—often on Saturday nights. That conversation will be it’s own post next week. It was simply remarkable.

I learned a great deal from everyone present (I’ll share some of those learnings as well), but getting to know Gene Getz was amazing. A former professor at Dallas Seminary, founder of the Fellowship Bible Churches and the author of 60 books (The Measure of a Man is probably the best known), Gene spent his 79th birthday mentoring young pastors on becoming better church leaders. He has just finished a 7-year study bible project that will be released in September. He is in good health and has no intention of slowing down. That’s how I want to go out—beating on Satan until the end.

Much of Gene’s mentoring had to do with the inner life of the leader. There were gillions of jewels over the course of the three days…but for brevity I'll share this: He said a mentor professor of his used to take Gene along to speaking engagements with him. Gene said the professor to him he prayed two things regularly regarding his ministry. The first was that he would never become just a “professional” pastor. He meant that he wouldn’t forget about the guts of ministry—what makes it what it is. Ministry is about God, His people, and His mission. Second, he said his mentor used to pray he would remain thankful that anyone would bother to show up to listen to him.

He expounded on both of those ideas, but Gene Getz planted a good prayer in me. It’s not supposed to be the only prayer. It’s just good pastoral wisdom. Pray that you won’t be just a professional. Pray that God will grant the humility and gratitude that anyone would consider your ministry a blessing and God worth the time.

These are two blind spots for pastors. It’s easy to become just a professional. This isn’t to say our ministry should have no professionalism, but rather we shouldn’t be merely professionals. It’s easy to get prideful enough to believe you are good enough someone (or even everyone) should show up to hear you. Nonsense. These are both, in their own way, prayers for humility.

Thank you, Gene Getz, for a life well lived, and for mentoring us with your own mentors words. To all pastors: may we:

  1. Never become just a professional.
  2. Always remain thankful anyone would bother listening to you.