3 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Going Into Ministry

Hey there, I know you probably have no idea who I am. If you are like me, then you are asking yourself, “Who is this guy? What does he have to prove? What can I learn from him?” I totally understand the skepticism and thought process. 

Honestly, I welcome it and appreciate it. Although there is a part of me that desperately wishes people would see my credibility because God has approved me.

Can you relate? Be honest.

We live in a word where people’s lips say one thing, but their lifestyle say’s something else. I don’t want to be that type of person anymore. I want to be a man that is real, honest, and wise. I want to be real about myself, be honest with others, and be wise with what I share.

To get to know me briefly, I was born and raised in the church. The type of church I was a part of prayed until people started falling down. I was raised in a church with dynamic worship. I am talking about the kind that you sweat during “Deep Cries Out” by Bethel and then bawl your eyes out during “With Everything” by Hillsong.

The same church I grew up in, I was employed at for four years as a Co-Director of Student Ministries to Director of Student Ministries. In Fall of 2017, I got the opportunity to be a part of a global ministry called Elevation Church with Pastor Steven Furtick for eight months. It was such a frustrating, but fruitful time. It’s interesting that most of our fruit or productivity comes from frustration or pain.

My hope isn’t to try and give you three points on how to be successful or build a ministry. I hope to share three areas that I struggled with. Three areas I wish I would have just “got” when I was just starting in ministry. I am still learning and do not have it all figured out, but I hope these lessons can speak to you.

Early on, I was so afraid of people seeing my struggles that they wouldn’t want to follow me. I was so nervous to let people into seeing my weakness. Who wants to follow a weak leader, right? Who wants to go into battle with someone who isn’t bold and courageous? I led out of insecurity and let it get the worst of me. Something I wish I would have done is let people in on my struggle. I am not saying the struggles your supervisor should know, I mean things like administration, consistency, and… hard conversations.

I tried too hard to carry this vibrato of having it all together, but underneath that, I was scared. I was afraid. What if people really knew that I hate when people don’t like me? What if people really knew I want to live in my comfort zone? What if people really knew I don’t like inviting people to church because I am so scared of being rejected?

If you haven’t, don’t be afraid to let people into your struggle. Something I am learning is that people connect to your weaknesses, and are led by your strengths. Be vulnerable!

Accountability is a love/hate relationship. I love that I am held to a standard that is set by my supervisor or me, but I hate when I miss the mark and am reminded I am really not “killing it.”

 Something I wish I did more wasn’t so much have accountability, but hold others accountable to what they promised me. You know… like telling a volunteer if they show up late again, they will be asked to step into a different role, but you kept extending grace because they were all you had to lead worship. Then you were wondering why all your volunteers are always late and not on time.

If you set a standard, learn to stand on that standard. Do it YOURSELF. If what you are demanding out of others is not set by YOU, then people might begin to question your leadership. If you want to be on time, show up fifteen minutes early. If you don’t hit the standard you set (it’ll happen), own up to that first before you say anything else. Trust me, this builds trust with the people around you!

Don’t forget that you are a local church pastor in some sense. We are never too busy to be interrupted. Get involved in people’s world! They may never step into your world, so why not jump into theirs? Jesus didn’t wait for us to come to heaven, he left heaven to come to us. 

Therefore, go to their games, presentations, hospital rooms, or anything else to show that you are available. God used Moses because he was available, not because he had a Masters Degree in Theology and Biblical Studies. It’s funny how you see faith work when you actually work it!

My prayer is that these are three things you can learn from me that I have not mastered, but am continually learning. Keep going, youth pastor; you are making a bigger difference than you know!

— Ryan Martinez