Pastors' Forum


Life-Long Learning

I’ve heard it said that pastors need to be life-long learners. That makes sense to me, but I wonder exactly how pastors go about accomplishing that?


Pastor Virgil Stokes – Tucson, AZ
This question reminded me of an afternoon back in 1995. I was riding with a pastor friend to the Christian book store. He was looking for books to read and asked me to recommend some. I did. His response was interesting, “I don’t want to read anything that I don’t agree with.” Needless to say, that attitude severely limits a person’s likelihood of learning anything. Reading things written by folks in other streams in the body of Christ is a great way to keep yourself alert. If I do happen to find something that doesn’t seem right to me, I am challenged to establish what I actually do believe from the Scripture. It’s good for me. I don’t want to be afraid of conflicting opinions. That reflects weakness and insecurity. I only want to be afraid of my own ignorance.

I try to force myself to read things that stretch me. Prayer and meditation can bring lots of revelation and inspiration, but in order to get new information, I have to look to outside sources. For many years I subscribed to National Review magazine for the primary purpose of growing my vocabulary (NRO is now available online). I currently subscribe to an online book summary service that sends me reviews and synopses of current literature on the subject of leadership. I keep an RSS/news aggregator on my phone to give me ready access to articles from a number of streams of thought. I try to read at least two or three articles every morning on current events, health, technology, or current Christian thought. You can actually mobilize Twitter to serve as a feed finder by following writers and media outlets that regularly post useful articles. (You can set up Flipboard to serve this purpose also. If you have this stuff on your phone you can save articles to Pocket to have them always ready to read).

I find it necessary to schedule myself to read and study things outside my daily routine (sermon prep doesn’t count). If it doesn’t get on my calendar, it rarely happens. Reserving an hour in the afternoon for reading is a great investment in life. In this day, you can also use the Internet to get great stuff (Hillsdale College offers some excellent historical material). There are many resources in most communities that can help with natural knowledge. We have attended business seminars on things such as time management and leadership practices. The local colleges have offered courses on helpful issues such as identification and treatment of sexual abuse, addiction treatment, and mental health. Some are very helpful.

One of the most useful things I have done in my “latter years” (I am 67) is to get involved in “life coaching.” At age 63 I enrolled in a Christian life coaching program for a year. It was a great experience to have another pastor help me clarify values, prioritize activities, and identify where my life was out of balance. I then took the training to become an effective coach myself. We encourage all of our leadership to get involved with this valuable tool. It makes us better. I guess the bottom line is find stuff you don’t know, that you are not comfortable with, and do it!

Pastor Jay Stillinger – Schenectady, NY
Several years ago, I came to the realization that I needed a plan for spiritual and intellectual growth in my life. As the pastor of the same church for over twenty years, I wanted to grow, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of the congregation I serve. Thankfully, continuing education has become more accessible due to the advent of the Internet. The challenge was, however, to find an institution which would maximize the educational credits that I already had by accepting all my previous education for transfer. This desire prompted me to search for a college and seminary which would meet this requirement and one that was truly accredited by a governmentally recognized accreditor. I soon discovered that there were many institutions which would transfer all my credits, but unfortunately, they were either unaccredited or accredited by an organization not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

I understand that for some people, this kind of accreditation is not important, but for me, I felt it was necessary for what God had called me to do in the future. I might add that if you’re looking for an accredited degree, be aware that there are many schools which are less than honest about their accreditation. They may advertise that they are “fully accredited,” but if it’s not through a governmentally recognized accreditor, they are being disingenuous. The only way to be absolutely certain is by checking out the websites for the USDE and CHEA.[i]

After a long process, I finally found a Bible College and Seminary which was fully accredited and would take all of my credits from Rhema Bible Training Center.[ii] Prior to this, I found accredited colleges which would take some of the credits but none would take them all. I also had thirty credits from a community college which transferred without question. This left me with only 30 credit hours (10 courses) to complete my Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Ministry. Currently, I only have one course left to receive my M.A. in Apologetics from Luther Rice Seminary ( Even though Luther Rice is basically Baptist in doctrine, I have found the courses (which I’ve done completely online) to be excellent and have learned a great deal. I have also discovered that, if I choose to transfer for further education, many accredited and respected seminaries will accept my degrees from Luther Rice. The best part is, I feel I am better equipped than ever to be an effective pastor to my congregation. If I’m not growing, how can I grow my congregation? This has been the path the Lord has led me to follow.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA
The art of the life-long learner … I believe that it’s as much of an ATTITUDE as it is an ACTION. We all can hear the wisdom in the statement itself. Of course, being a lifelong learner is a great objective. However, keeping ourselves open and hungry to new information is easier said than done.

New information is basically everywhere. Books, podcasts, conferences — just to name a few — are all great places to locate insights and revelation that could potentially catapult us to new levels of leadership. But let’s not miss out by overlooking even more accessible resources that are right at our fingertips, as well. We are surrounded by people with ideas, dreams, and wisdom. It might surprise us how much we could learn from those closest to us, IF we were in a “learning posture.”

I’d like to suggest that our greatest enemy in the pursuit of lifelong learning is, more often than not, our own unteachable spirit. I’m not suggesting that we possess an evil attitude that resembles that of a spoiled rotten 11 year old, but if we are not intentionally “self-aware,” it’s way too easy to dismiss learning opportunities as unwanted disruptions in our day. I can’t tell you how many times what I first considered an “unwanted interruption” wound up being a “divine appointment!”

I truly believe that a major key to becoming (and staying) a lifelong learner is to develop an ability and willingness to receive NEW THOUGHTS. Being able to STOP something that you do well in order to position yourself to do something else BETTER, for example, requires you to be able to recognize BETTER is a viable option. We often settle for good, even when better is obtainable, just to protect ourselves from anything different. Why? Because we’ve closed the door on anything new, fresh, or different. Being teachable reopens that door. A lifelong learner doesn’t just prop the door open, he removes it from its hinges!

Pastor Jim Blanchard – Virginia Beach, VA
Several years ago I was invited to audit some ministry courses at a nearby Christian university for $150 a course. At that time, I realized that I was leading a church with several members who had completed graduate degrees and I had not completed my undergraduate degree. After many years of supporting a family, as many of us do, I decided that I would find out what would be required to complete my undergraduate degree. To my surprise, Regent offered 25% off tuition for ministry leaders, a church matching scholarship, and other financial aid; and after three years of hard work, I had fulfilled a lifelong goal of finishing college in 2014. I am currently completing a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and have learned many invaluable lessons along the way. It has been a great step of faith, but the rewards are great as well.

I do not recommend that every ministry leader follow the same course of action; however, a formal education does greatly assist in leadership careers. Naturally, God’s calling and anointing is the primary consideration for entering the ministry and formal education is only one aspect of lifelong learning. I highly recommend having mentors, peers, and a multitude of counsel in ministry (including listening to your spouse), seminars, annual conventions. Keeping oneself sharpened is advantageous in meeting the many challenges that ministry leaders face. Continued blessings on your family and ministry!

Pastor Dave Rogers – Waterville, ME
I’ve found, for myself, that multiple media study seems to work best.

  1. I’m always reading books, listening to CD’s, watching Youtube videos and scouring web page materials of established teachers.
  2. I try to rotate my subject matter as well, mixing teaching that reinforces my foundation and root doctrines, as well as strengthening my areas of weakness.
  3. I attempt to avoid diving into “new concepts or fads” in the beginning. Time and the Word have a tendency to either support the new or expose the weaknesses and errors.
  4. I make a sincere effort to attend good seminars in my area or visit guest ministers at churches in my area.
  5. I’ve also found it valuable to study the fundamental doctrines: salvation, assurance, grace, Holy Spirit baptism, and tongues that have been laid forth by teachers from other denominational organizations. It gives me a better perspective of their point of view and arguments, which challenges me to study the Word further to strengthen my faith as well.
  6. Finally, I’ve enrolled in a Distance Learning degree program offered by a good seminary in pursuit of a higher degree.

Pastor Aaron Fillmore – Ada, OK
1. Reading. John Piper makes a good case for reading twenty minutes per day, specifically “old, dead theologians.” In his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, Piper notes that for someone who reads slowly (about 250 words per minute) that reading twenty minutes per day, six days a week equates to 3,900 pages per year. An average book is about 250 pages, leading to fifteen books read in that time. C.S. Lewis made it a habit to read one ‘old’ book for each ‘new’ book he read. There is much gold to mine from the pages of the early Reformers, the writings of the Puritans, or even sermons from theological greats such as that of Edwards or Spurgeon. It should, of course, go without saying (but I will say it anyway) that the primary book of the pastor is his Bible and it should always be his main course amongst the various other side dishes we might sample.

2. Hearing. I’m sure many pastors have their list of those in ministry they listen to on a regular basis. I listen to a good variety of pastors/teachers that always seem to make me want to be more like Christ, rather than a better ‘version’ of myself. Listening to these truths from the Word of God, stretching myself and testing myself to God’s standard will always reveal to me the areas in which I need to grow. If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, I must saturate myself in the Word through reading and by hearing it taught and preached, planting the seed of the Word in my heart, and by meditating on it so that the Spirit may water it and that I might watch it grow into fruit evident in my life by the grace of God.

3. Doing. I have heard it said that wisdom is knowledge applied. For one to be considered a life-long learner, they must be applying what has been learned. Much like we seek to point out truths from Scripture and give our congregations practical applications found in the Word, we must demand the same learning/applying model of ourselves. We can spend our lives reading and hearing but it is all for naught if it fails to result in real application demonstrated in our lives.

4. Mentoring. The real-time, practical learning that takes place when two join together in a mentoring relationship is something that simply cannot be found in a book or in the very best of sermons. There is always someone who has been where you are; the Army calls them BTDTs (been there, done thats). Finding someone in ministry that can provide answers to questions, help in helpless situations, or even just a listening ear or a word of encouragement at the right time is critical for our personal and pastoral development. This relationship also works both ways; though one person may be primarily considered the ‘mentor’, both individuals are in a position to learn from each other throughout the relationship.

Pastor Walker Schurz – Lusaka, Zambia
My wife and I have been very blessed to have learned quite a lot along the journey of our ministry and leadership assignments. We are so thankful for the incredible wisdom that we have received along the way. Here are the main sources we found that imparted the most into our lives.

1. God’s Word – Over and over again, a verse or Bible passage will give us correction, insight and direction. Areas where we are seeking will be enlightened through Bible reading, study and hearing God’s word preached.

2. The Teacher, the Holy Spirit – He truly leads us into all truth. We have had Him speak phrases, nudge us in the right direction and show us things to come. He also has searched out our hearts and brought great clarity and light where we were unaware.

3. Books – Certain books have truly been encounters with God and radically altered our lives. We have stacks of books on our desks and nightstands that are waiting to be read. I never travel without a book that teaches me. It is amazing that for $15 I can obtain wisdom from people so much smarter than me and overcome almost any area of ignorance or inexperience.

4. Conferences – We regularly attend leadership conferences, personal growth workshops, roundtables, seminars, campmeetings, and Holy Spirit meetings. While not every session is transformative and some do not hit the target, we keep looking for those that will help us develop, learn and grow.

5. Life experience – We have made quite a few of mistakes over 23 years of ministry. Our goal is not to make the same mistake twice. If we paid the high price of missing it, we might as well get the most from the tuition. We do a post-mortem with God and others to see really what happened and make the needed change of heart.

6. Paid consultants and coaches – We have had incredible help from a fundraising consultant, a strategic planning consultant and personal coaches. Their fees are not cheap, but they paid for themselves easily over time. So many things we are doing for the first time, yet these professionals have helped other ministers and people multiple time successfully. We are big fans of godly, Biblical and effective consultants and coaches.

7. Unpaid mentors – God has brought some incredible people into our lives at the right moments. Their words of encouragement and statements inspired by the Holy Spirit have taught us so much. Many of these individuals have lived a lifetime following God and love pouring into the next generation. Their love and belief in us is incredibly helpful during tough times.

8. Team members – Ministry cannot be done alone and God works through teams. We have learned much by listening to staff members, volunteers and board members. They have a perspective that we do not have and hearing from them gives us information that we could not get independently.

9. Media – We love reading online articles, blogs and accessing teaching and preaching. The amount of great information that is free online today is mind boggling. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of silly rubbish available and we pray you can discern what to discard and ignore.

10. Formal education – Every day we use the education we received from our bachelors’ degrees and Bible school training. We learned from some of the best of that generation. My wife has started a masters degree and I am eyeing a few post-graduate options.

Keep learning and growing, as your future assignments from God that are coming will require you to be smarter and more developed than you are today.

Proverbs 4:7a: Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!

Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI
Great question! To be a life-long learner sounds like such a grand thing. It sounds like what a leader should do, yet it also sounds a bit grueling. I mean, life-long! That’s a long time. It almost sounds like never-ending work and my personal opinion is we have too much of that already. It has become a badge of honor in the corporate world to work yourself into the ground and sacrifice your family and health in the process. To be a life-long learner can bring the picture of a never-ending pursuit of the next degree.

But the reality is being a life-long learner can be an absolute blast. I find it invigorating, not draining. I suppose it’s all in the approach. But here’s the thing – empty hearts are not fed by empty heads. When I think about the people that God has entrusted to my care, I can’t afford to not constantly be learning. I look at it like this — if I’m through improving, then I’m through.

Here are a few things I do that make learning both easy and a joy to me:

  1. Keep an endless supply of CDs or podcasts in your car. The time I spend in the car is never wasted time; it’s learning time. Why just drive when you can be inspired? Why just drive to work when you can be motivated and educated all the way to work? You can easily turn your car into a university!
  2. Determine you are going to learn LOTS of different things. I list 12 topics I want to study in a given year, then I break them down one per month. My mentor, Pastor Dave Williams, taught me this strategy years ago, and it keeps things changing and fresh for me. Study doctrine, study history, study health, study the lives of leaders who are a great example, and study the lives of horrible leaders that will serve as a warning to you. This month I’m learning about health. So in my car I have a CD about diet and nutrition. It’s amazing what I’m learning and it’s changing the way I eat every day, which is changing the way I feel every day. I’m also reading a book called The 150 Most Healthy Foods on the Planet.
  3. Set aside 30 minutes every day to read. One hour would be better, but 30 minutes is a good start. Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every WORD that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This tells me we need a steady diet of words, thoughts, and ideas in our life. Some say, “But I don’t have 30 minutes. By the time I get home, I’m tired, I have to eat some food, watch a little TV…” Jim Rohn said, “You can live without a meal, and you can live without TV, but you cannot live without some words.”
  4. Learn from the people around you every day. I have found you never learn anything when you are talking, but you can learn a lot when you take time to listen. I learn from listening to my daughter. I’ve learned so much by listening to young men that I mentor. I’ve learned about the joys and heartaches of couples by listening. I’ve learned about the challenges my staff face when I listen. Not long ago I listened to a young adult talk about her recent visit to see her father. It was horrible. She was told that she was never wanted. As I watched her try to hide the tears, I was learning about the power of a father’s love — what can happen when somebody is loved and what can happen when they are not.

Take the work out of learning and enjoy the ride.

Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
Every day offers learning opportunities if we will grasp them. God is always talking to us and offering us more revelation if we will study to show ourselves approved unto him. We ought to be learning to fine tune our love walk each and every day. I study scripture that the Lord reveals to me specifically and I study random scriptures at times until I hear from Him. There are wonderful books by many Christian authors that are full of scripture and experiences that we can learn from. Just watch people without judging them and see what you can learn. It can be a humbling experience. Watch children and learn from their faith. It is a new world each day and God wants to teach us something more if we avail ourselves to him. ENJOY your time with God. He is your father.

Pastor Mike Campbell – Algood, TN
Life-long learning is a journey that we are on as pastors. I think that any leader who is not continuing to learn is not a leader. They have forfeited the right to lead to another. I guess the best way to look at this might be what is a life-long learner?

My personal thought is it is someone who is constantly reading, searching, going to conferences to learn, taking continuing education courses, being mentored, discussing other alternatives with peers, or just constantly taking in resources and then reflecting on what is happening in the latest trends of ministry.

There is no doubt we have all had times where we feel that nothing can be added to our schedule. However, you set the tone for your ministry and life. I would suggest you weed out unnecessary things so you have more time to grow personally.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Make time for reading books. I personally try to read 2 books per month. Some months I am better than others, but I keep up with what I have read and often will discuss it with others. Books about leadership, ministry, ministry topics, family, etc. Challenge yourself with books by authors you have not read or think differently than you.
  1. Read blogs and weekly things sent from Church leadership, etc. There are plenty of resources out on the Internet. In case you have not noticed, everyone is an expert now with blogs. You can also get weekly or monthly updates from your ministry leaders. You don’t always have to pay for these things but in some cases a little cost is necessary.
  1. Attend conferences. You may think it costs too much to go to conferences, and sometimes that is the case. Search around and pick something that will benefit you. Don’t go just to go to a conference. Be selective and find something that will stretch you and challenge your thinking. ARC has some great stuff out, as well as Orange, CGIA, and other ministry groups. Also, look for ministry conferences hosted by people who are doing a good job and attend those looking for fresh things to challenge you.
  1. Assign books to your staff (and leadership – board) for review and discussion. I assign my staff a book and we cover it in staff development. I also assign my board books and we discuss them in our board meetings for the first 30-45 minutes. It helps to keep everyone going in the same direction. Make sure you have read the book first and develop good questions for discussion if it does not have questions with it. I also, from time to time, assign a book and ask my staff to write a report of what they think this book is saying to them and how it will affect their ministry moving forward.
  1. RightNow Media/Study Gateway – These are online services that you can join for yourself or your church. This is an item that costs your church, but it is a great tool for personal growth and for ministry growth. It can be accessed by anyone in your church once you sign up, and it has teachings and studies online for your leadership team, small groups, or for you personally. Once you join you can access this from anywhere you have Internet access, not just at the church.

Remember this: You cannot go to conferences and come back and change everything about your ministry with each different conference. Be selective and discuss your thoughts with others in your ministry, leadership team, peers, and then begin to move slowly.

I think it was John Maxwell who said, “Leaders are readers and leaders are learners.” So let’s keep learning.

Pastor Duane Hanson – St. Paul, MN
When I read the topic for this month, the first thought that ran through my mind was this: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly!” (Col. 3:16). That simple statement summed up my approach to an attitude of life-long learning.

Every morning I do my best to read a variety of daily devotionals, expecting to learn something from each one. Some days I hardly get anything from one of my favorites, while another one will set me on a path that leads to a whole series of messages. I never know which one will reveal a “nugget of truth” for that day, or a real gold mine of wisdom that I’ll find myself digging into for weeks! What that means is simply this; I need to keep my eyes and ears open to what the Lord wants to share with me each day during my time with Him and His Word. Most of what I receive during those times with Him is primarily for my own spiritual growth and development, which means I focus on preparing the “messenger” and not just another message!

Becoming a “life-long learner” begins with the desire to spend quality time with Jesus and His Word. I want the Holy Spirit, who is the Great Teacher, to reveal and share His “daily bread” with me. Ministry will always challenge us to make the choice between acting more like Martha, or like Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Over the years, I’ve bounced back and forth between both attitudes of “working” for the Lord and “worshiping” the Lord of the work. I’ve learned to take heed to the wisdom found in Proverbs 18:15 which says “Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.” [MSG]

I recently discovered that “learning to listen for fresh insights” can take many forms! A few months ago I was moving some boxes around in our basement and ran across some old audio tapes from when my wife and I attended RHEMA. I pulled out one set from a class by Doug Jones and popped the first cassette in my old tape deck wondering if it would even play. Sure enough, even after a couple of decades stuffed away in a box, those tapes worked and Doug Jones sounded just fine. I’ve been listening to that whole series of tapes from that class over the last few weeks and have been stirred up by his teaching all over again. What a joy it’s been to revisit the truth from those classes. But I also realized I had let a few things slip away that we had learned back in those “RHEMA DAYS!” It taught me to appreciate some of the foundational truth we heard and received years ago, and the necessity to revisit and rehearse those basic teachings.

Since that experience, I’ve been browsing through my library of old books and taking a fresh approach to the timeless teaching material in many of them. I’ve purposed to be “always learning, always listening for fresh insights” from those out dated materials! Let’s be honest about it, people always want something “new and fresh” from heaven! With all the new technology and multiple means of instantly accessing the Word and other teaching resources via the Internet, we can actually get overloaded with so many options. Perhaps we’ve become spoiled, and maybe even a little lackadaisical about studying for ourselves. However, it just might be a good thing to dig out some old books and tapes and take a refresher course on a subject that we haven’t thought about for some time.

I trust we’re all familiar with the scripture in Timothy that says “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth!” In my early years of ministry I found myself studying for the wrong reasons. I would spend hours in the Word thinking I would somehow gain more “approval” from God, and therefore a “greater anointing” when I ministered. I was rescued from the trap of “works” when I went through a season where I couldn’t spend as much time in preparation and study, and had to learn to rely on the Great Teacher within. I began to learn and study with the understanding that I had to “show MYSELF” that God had already approved of my willingness to yield to Him. I have become a life-long learner because I know there’s so much more that I personally need to learn during this limited life time on earth.

When a good friend was given a six month sabbatical by his congregation, he took advantage of that unrestricted time and finished up some of the final requirements for his doctorate studies. He certainly spent time with his family relaxing and being refreshed, but he also applied himself to study and learning during his sabbatical! I wonder how many of us would have just “checked out” and used that time as an extended vacation, not even reading a book related to our spiritual growth or ministry while we were away from the responsibilities that our pulpits demand? I’ve purposed that I’m going to walk in the wisdom from Proverbs 19:8 that says “…those who love learning will succeed!” [NCV]

Rev. Guinn Shingleton – Oviedo, FL
In my years of pastoring, I made it a point to first make what I learned applicable to my personal spiritual growth. I knew that if I applied truth to my life it would benefit my family and my congregation by precept and example. Although we are all susceptible to studying only for a sermon, I tried to limit that, choosing rather to gain a broad understanding of basic Bible principles and then prepare messages from my overflow.

Be careful not to chase “every (new) wind of doctrine.” Major on those things that benefit you and your congregation, such as love, faith, healing, and so forth. Unfortunately, part of life-long learning is being on top of radical new doctrines so that you are aware of any deception which might begin to creep into your congregation. Then, you can speak the truth in love and wisdom to those who may be in error.

I have not personally found any magazines which have helped me to grow, although there may be some available.

It helps to continually re-study the “classics” such as Christ the Healer, The Believer’s Authority, and such. It’s amazing how much “new truth” you’ll discover in these books as you grow pastorally.

Another key component to life-long learning involves your associations. There are 3 key groups in your life (besides your family): those you influence, those who are your peers, and those who speak truth and godly wisdom into your life. In the last group, be careful not to open yourself up to just anyone who has a title. Let God bring people across your path who stir your heart and cause you to walk strong and dream big. When you are in the presence of these people, choose the proper times to ask questions. My rule-of-thumb was to “always be more of an ear than a mouth.”

If you set your heart to grow spiritually, the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth!

Pastor Tim Kutz – Bartlesville, OK
The number one way that a person is a life-long learner should go without saying, but it is the cornerstone of our “learning life.” This cornerstone is a consistent devotional life. Any person, especially ministers, that does not have this in their life, has a limited ceiling of understanding. The lack of a devotional life puts you in a place where you will be “ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”

The number two way that anybody is a life-long learner is to be a “ready listener.” Be quick to hear and slow to speak. Lead with your ears and follow up with your tongue. Each of us already knows what we know. If we are to learn from others, we must set our heart to listen. A life-long learner will always look for truth in what a person is saying, even if the learner disagrees with the premise of the speaker. The importance of this cannot be overlooked! This is what has been called “eat the hay and spit out the sticks.” This is the fruit of the Spirit called “meekness.” Many ministers do not live by this principle because they have a desire to share and speak what they know. As ministers, we do need to share and speak what we know, but be a learner first and an instructor second! Live your life with this as a core value!

The number three way is to make a habit of going to multiple meetings within the company of believers that you are in. John wrote by inspiration of the Spirit of God in 1 John 2:20 that, “you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.” Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, the Spirit of Truth, that He would guide us into all truth. We live our life by this revelation from the Holy Spirit. We all understand that this is how we were “born again.” But we don’t have total revelation of everything; there is more that we can receive. Peter said in 2 Peter 1:2 that grace, God’s endowment of ability and favor on us, is multiplied when we receive more revelation. The reason that you are in your place in the body of Christ right now is because God set you there. Nurture that by consistently going to meetings and listening and learning from the same people, and/or the same company that God used to help shape your life spiritually in the first place. This will bring stability and increase to your life. No matter what you learn from others, keep this as a core value in your life until you go to be with Jesus. Please understand that this does not mean that we cannot go to the meetings of others that are not exactly in our company. I would encourage that occasionally, but as a matter of habit, grow where God has set you!

The last thing is to be a disciplined reader. Set a goal of how many books that you will read each year, month or week. Personally, I believe that recreational reading will help to feed this desire and habit in you. By recreational reading I mean an occasional novel that feeds your adrenaline. Interject someone’s biography at chosen intervals, possibly two each year, or one per quarter. Read all the books that your spiritual father and your pastor have written, and read after those that are in that company, especially those who write in the vein that you function or are called to. Set books on leadership at certain intervals in your reading as well. Some may not feel compelled do this because they do not do a great deal of teaching on leadership. But develop the leader that you must be; you were not born that way! The leader within everyone is developed on purpose. For pastors only, when you visit your people, especially your key people, at the earliest chance you get, browse their bookshelf. If they have an over-abundance of books on certain theologies or subjects that you are unfamiliar with, consider reading one or two so that you will know what they are feeding themselves, and you can communicate with them from that knowledge. Consider reading an occasional book, for the same reason previously stated, that you believe is well read and leads people off course. Do not make this a consistent habit! Lastly, yet vital, read books that will help you with people skills!

There are certain books that you should reread at periodical times. Know which books those are and make this a habit. Some examples MAY be:

The Believer’s Authority by Kenneth Hagin
Be A People Person by John Maxwell
The Work Book by Tony Cooke
Christ The Healer by F.F. Bosworth
Fox’s Book Of Martyrs by John Foxe

Pastor Gil Zaragoza – El Paso, TX
Stay 100% connected to your spiritual fathers in the faith and to ministerial mentors. Go to their meetings on a consistent basis. When I personally do this, not only do I get tanked up spiritually so that I can do the work of the ministry effectively, but I also stay tanked up to the point of overflow, thus, preventing me from experiencing “spiritual burn-out” in the ministry.

Pastor Monte Knudsen – Mt. Pleasant, IA
As one person simply said, leaders are readers. A lifelong growth means you are always reading and engaging in what you are learning and growing in. As James tells us, hearing without response or action has no blessing in it.

Growth comes in so many areas of our lives. We can grow in emotional maturity, in knowledge about our profession or our calling, in our understanding of financial responsibility and handling of money, and so many other areas. It is impossible to grow without accountability or a mentor/coach. Every leader of a fortune 500 company has a mentor for one year before taking over the reins. Every great athlete has a coach to help them improve by correcting weaknesses. Every doctor must spend two years under a seasoned doctor before getting their full license. As ministers who do we have that helps us become better communicators? Who is challenging us to become better leaders/servants? Who is growing our understanding of handling church monies and raising funds with integrity and success? Many times in our “profession” we must seek this out ourselves because most people think ministry is only about preaching.

When we stop growing we get old. That might be at 25 years or 75 years, but you become dry, uninteresting and passionless. Romans 8 reveals that we are on a collision course with change as we are being “changed into the image of Christ.” I pray my life and ministry looks more like Christ next year and the next year and the next year.

You cannot grow if you are around no one who challenges you. If you are the smartest in the room you need to move and get around those who challenge you. It might be another minister, or a person in your congregation, or board members who feel their advice is not welcomed. Sometimes it’s helpful to go outside your own spiritual circles to discover new ways of approaching tired out routines or habits. Other times it means investing time and money to purchase materials that are helpful and instructional. Who challenges your prayer life? Who inspires you to walk in a closer relationship with God? Whose skills do you wish you had? Ask to spend some time with these people. Growth never happens in an atmosphere of pride. If you want people to think you know it all, you will not grow or develop to your full potential. You must humble yourself to ask, listen, and learn.

Get involved in discipling and mentoring others. The teacher always learns the most. When you consistently meet with someone who depends on you to grow them, you are forcing yourself to grow deeper. Growth is never automatic. Many people grow old but never grow up. Keep growing.

Pastor Jesse Zepeda – Pflugerville, TX
I first learned that God did not change Moses’ character, but He used it for His glory. I was a repairman for AT&T. The equipment I worked with was forever changing or being modified, so I had to learn about our new equipment to keep up with all the advancements.

When I came into the family of God through Jesus Christ, I had to learn about my salvation, then about baptism, and then about deliverance, and then about… Well, you can see that God who never changes, expects us to grow up and learn and discern new things in the Body of Christ.

Grow up in all things, in Christ. So we have to be teachable and keep learning and discerning, forever sensitive to the Holy Spirit who knows all things, right?

I trust this will help you learn something new.

[i] See and

[ii] Whether or not Luther Rice College and Seminary will still transfer all the credits from Rhema Bible Training Center is not known.