Dear pastor in training,

You will not be a perfect pastor and your church will not be a perfect church. You will need to learn to give grace and to lose your pride.

1. Give grace to your current church and your future church.

Your current church will never be perfect and the church that you will pastor will not be perfect either. Guys who are training to pastor often find themselves frustrated with their current church and think that when they pastor they’ll be able to fix all of their frustrations. When you are the pastor of a church, your systems will still need work, your administration will still have holes, your liturgy will not be perfect, your discipleship will still leave people falling through cracks, and your ecclesiology will still need shaping.

Yes, your current church is not perfect, but guess what? -- your future church won’t be perfect either, no matter how hard you work at it. Learn to give grace to your current church and lose your pride that whispers a word of discontentment to your heart, “Just wait until I’m the pastor and I don’t have to deal with this poorly-run organization of messed up people. My church will be better than this.” Your future church will need grace as well. So learn to give grace to the church today.

2. Give grace to your current pastor and to yourself when you are the pastor.

Your current pastor will never be perfect and when you are a pastor, you will not be perfect either. Guys who are training to be pastors often find themselves frustrated with their pastor because they believe they wouldn’t make the same mistake, have the same struggles, or make the same decisions. When you are a pastor, you will not be perfect. You will have too little time to meet with everyone who needs you. You will make decisions that aren’t the best. You will preach sermons that aren’t homeruns. You will respond in frustration. You will lead poorly and you will feel like you are a failure.

Yes, your current pastor is not perfect, but guess what? -- you won’t be perfect when you are a pastor either. Give grace to your current pastor and lose your pride that whispers a word of self-righteous discord to your heart, “I can’t believe he did that. Just wait until I’m the pastor, I won’t make that mistake.” You will need grace from others and from yourself when you are a pastor, so learn to give grace to your pastor now. In so doing, learn to give grace to yourself when you become a pastor, or else you will find yourself in a constant struggle with self-righteousness, perfectionism, and failure as a pastor.