Today I begin a series devoted to Pastor’s wisdom, and our question we asked of seasoned pastors was this: If you knew then what you know now, what would you have focused on? Or, in light of what you now know, what would you advise young pastors to focus on? Our first post is from Kent Anderson, pastor of a Covenant church in Naperville Illinois.
Hindsight is 20/20 but it often comes at less than productive moments but sometimes it does make a difference. I have served churches in Iowa, Michigan and Illinois; in rural, small town and suburban environs. I have dealt with everything from murder to suicide to sexual abuse to goofy boards to cranky members to bats in the church to you name it. Knowing this – the one thing I would make sure of if I was starting over again is this ? read the Bible.
Oh I read the Bible regularly with some systematic method, but what I mean is to read through the Bible repeatedly every year. Make it a high priority practice. About 12 years ago I began to read the Bible from front to back three times a year. I read it in 20 chapter segments and this takes about an hour a day. I do this 4 – 5 time a week. I change version each time read through it, NIV, NRSV, KJV, NASB, Jerusalem, the Message, whatever. I mark the Bible up and have cheap notebook to jot down my thoughts and questions. There are times when I take a break for a month and do something else but this has been my foundational practice for years.
Why do this? In every other element of my position I know that there are people in the church who know more about leadership and vision casting, finances, building construction and maintenance, pedagogy and the care and feeding of copiers. But I need to know the Bible. I need to know it intimately, its themes (large and small) the people who populate it and its flow. I need to know it personally to be able to carefully use it professionally. The more I read it the more I am drawn to it. And I discover more about myself in reading the Bible. I love Leviticus and its lessons. Judges is the most contemporary book for our land. David is always in trouble in Psalms. The personalities of the gospels are amazing, and Revelation can be breathtaking.
My regret is that I started this practice after 15 years of ministry. But if I were starting over again among all the choices I would have to make, reading the Bible through would be #1.