Dear Robert Earl Houston (30 years ago),
Welcome to Pastoring! I’m writing you a letter (and my friends from Facebook and my blog are eavesdropping) in 2019 to share some things with you. These are some things, especially at ministry and relationships that I wish someone had told me. I’m writing this after a personally tough year in saying goodbye to members, friends, colleagues and loved ones:
a. Understand that this calling does not generate a lot of friends. It’s not a popularity poll. It’s not going to make you a popular person. If you have 10 friends in ministry through the years, you will be blessed beyond measure. Some friends are permanent. Some friends are seasonal. Some friends are only here for “a short spell” as the seasoned saints used to say.
b. Understand that you’re going to need some friends who are mentors, some friends who are colleagues, and some friends who are just starting out in ministry that you can be a mentor to. It will enrich your life and remember – those before you have already arrived where you’re trying to go.
c. Understand that sometimes friendships end prematurely. Not always because of an argument or falling out. Sometimes it occurs because of death – and that sting of death can even run deeper than the death of a blood relative. Robert, as you get older, your mentors will begin transitioning. That’s just a fact of life. While you’re in your late 20s, the pastors that you look up to will be (like you) older by the time you arrive to your late 50s. Some will be called home by the Lord and will leave you in tears.
d. Understand that there will be some tough days. And there will be some great, glorious days. On those tough days, God will send someone to let you know how you have ministered to them. Cherish those moments.
And lastly, e., Be of good courage. Never assume that God has forgotten your plight. He is able to make moves in your life that others will never understand nor comprehend. God will never leave you and He’ll never forsake you. Trust Him in the process and watch Him provide.
Use your gifts that God has given you. Teaching the Word is just as important as Preaching the Word. Love People. And Love God!
+Pastor Robert Earl Houston
Mercy Seat Missionary Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO