After 44 years of professional work, I am starting to feel ill equipped. I don't know if I am functioning at my highest level. I wonder, "Are my skills and knowledge enough for the work God has called me to do?"
Don't misunderstand, I have an associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree. But this education, while valuable, has limits and some of it is no longer relevant.
What can I do? I could return to school and pursue a PhD or a DMin. But further formal education is not for me. There must be another way.
In the professional world, many careers require professional development. Professional development involves acquiring new skills and knowledge through ongoing education and career training after entering the workforce. It ensures that professionals maintain their expertise and deliver high-quality services within their field.
No one requires professional development for pastors in non-denominational circles. They are left on their own. There's no follow-up, no system to keep their skills up to date.
If left on our own, we must develop our own system - a self-guided method, that we can use.
Here are the subjects every pastor must further develop. Let me know what you think.
- Theology and Biblical Studies: This is the area that needs the least amount of attention because you preach weekly. However, it takes the priority if your initial training was limited or poor.
- Biblical Languages: Unfortunately, language skills are not like riding a bike. To keep your Greek and Hebrew proficient, you must study and review.
- Pastoral Leadership: Most pastors learn leadership on the job - baptism under fire. Leadership development should not be reactionary. You need to be proactive and develop your leadership skills before they are needed.
- Public Speaking and Communication: You are probably not as good as you think you are. Read up or take a seminar on preaching. Better yet, join the local Toastmasters. Also, not all communication happens at the pulpit. Thus, some training in creative or business writing might be appropriate.
- Conflict Resolution and Mediation: I hate conflict, but the job sometimes requires it. You need some tools that you can grab in moments such as these.
- Cultural Competence: Missionaries work hard at understanding the culture. Pastors should do the same. Our communities are changing fast. How are you preparing?
- Technology and Social Media: There was a time when the pastor was the most up-to-date person in the community. We cannot afford to fall behind in our understanding of technology and social media. There's a wider audience on the other side of your computer screen.
- Financial Management and Stewardship: Learn about financial management techniques to ensure the responsible stewardship of church resources.
- Community Engagement and Outreach: At one time, Evangelism Explosion was the newest way to reach the lost. Now it's 61 years old! The gospel never changes. But the methods we use do! Be a student of new ways to present the truth of Jesus Christ.
- Self-Care and Wellbeing: Although listed last, it may be the most important one for you to explore. Burnout, marital and family problems are guaranteed if you don't learn how to take care of yourself.
The above are some suggestions. Please share in the comments what you would add to pastoral professional development.
In future posts, I will write about each and share some valuable resources to help you grow.