Larry Yeagley, now retired, has served as a pastor and chaplain. He lives in Gentry, Arkansas, United States.

At eight years old, I was fortunate to meet evangelist H. M. S. Richards. He came to camp meeting. I followed him around the campus and sat on the front row when he spoke. I heard the call. I was going to become a pastor and work for Jesus!

Career day was a time to shine for many professionals. In Adventist academies and colleges, they hoped to help students decide on a life work. Presentations were lively and fresh and students eagerly collected glossy brochures. But this was not so in the room where ministry was promoted. No brochures. No excitement. Just a soon-to-retire pastor whose spark had died out.

Pastors who came to my hometown church seemed pressured to meet organizational programs. Several left pastoral ministry for health-care employment. Several left ministry altogether. How can a pastor keep his or her love of pastoral ministry? From my own experience, we can do so in four ways:

1. Innovate. The fun and excitement of a pastor’s life is not designed by administrators; it is the responsibility of the pastor. I have found joy and a sense of accomplishment treading a new trail. By God’s grace, I helped to organize three hospices and became the chaplain for them. I developed a grief-support program. I accepted the presidency of the American Cancer Society in my county. I lectured in over 200 cities for clergy of all faiths. I helped over 1,000 smokers quit. This was done while pastor of two churches. I was busy and happy.God helped me contact people who would never have responded to traditional and outmoded evangelism. You want to keep being a minister? Try creativity.

2. Educate. I met H. M. S. Richards again some years later. I mentioned to him that I had conducted seminars in his area, and he scolded me for not coming to visit him. He wanted to show me his library. You see, when I graduated, he had given me a list of 50 books every self-respecting pastor needed to read. He knew how to remain a pastor—read, read, read. Your congregation can tell when you don’t. For four years, I attended a clergy breakfast and listened to authors presenting their recent books. Under every chair was a bag of ten of the latest books. I spent two days with Norval Pease studying about worship. If you learn to prepare sermons with lots of good content, listeners will look forward to every worship service—and so will you.

3. Delegate. You can’t be all things to all church members. Learn to refer. One of the largest churches in my community employs three pastors. I asked if they had a referral list. I was met with puzzled looks. It soon became evident that they needed what they did not have. Burnout started to take its toll on the staff. A year later, that large church is losing members and financial troubles are naturally following.

Let me recommend a text that taught me how to refer: William R. Miller and Kathleen A. Jackson, Practical Psychology for Pastors (Prentice-Hall, 1995). The art of referring can enhance your ministry.

4. Participate. Open your eyes to the dozens of events close to you. I attended the first national convention of hospices in America. Then I attended a weekend training event with J. William Worden, a scholar in the area of thanatology.

One of my most enlightening experiences was colecturing with the PREACH program sponsored by Ministry magazine. That took me to scores of cities in United States, Canada, and seven countries in the Far East. If you want to grow and remain in the ministry, participate.

My great-granddaughter is my model. She opens her coloring book, grabs a crayon, and with pleasure shows me her creation. She is happy with her “Rembrandt.’ She has illustrated for me that a growing pastor is a happy pastor—because coloring outside the lines is fun.


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Larry Yeagley, now retired, has served as a pastor and chaplain. He lives in Gentry, Arkansas, United States.

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