First Third Conversations

Leadership of a New Pastor

Walking TogetherA blog post by Adam Butler

My wife and I are buying a house. After living with my parents for a few months and moving into a short-term lease apartment here in Sioux Falls, we’re pretty excited to have our own place -- our own house. To repeat my wife’s sentiment, “I can’t believe someone is actually letting us do this.”

One of the most difficult things about this home buying process is realizing how little you know about these kinds of “grownup” things. We’ve had to learn very quickly how mortgages, inspections, appraisals, agreements, and approvals work. I’m sure we’ll also learn very quickly what it really takes to own and maintain a house, too. One thing at a time.

I’ve kind of been feeling the same way about this new pastor gig. I’ve said to myself many times during these first couple weeks, “I can’t believe someone is actually letting me do this.” People are going to allow me to be present in the most vulnerable moments of their lives: marriage, birth, illness, loneliness, helplessness and death. I’ll be asked to walk alongside others in these exciting and difficult times.

 It’s an honor and a blessing. But, really? Me?

From a leadership perspective, it’s difficult to jump in. I’m the kid in this whole mix. Not incapable because of it, but as green and unseasoned as the beans in the school lunch line. Much of my leadership as a pastor will come with time and will be continually developed over the course of my career. I have to keep reminding myself of that reality. One thing at a time.

One thing I will say, though, is that we must be keenly aware of this similar reality within the culture of young adults. Whether it’s deciding what college to attend, jumping right into the workforce, filing taxes for the first time, changing jobs, buying a house, having children, getting married, moving across the country, or starting a company, young adults are new at this stuff.

 We’re smart, capable, instinctive, and hardworking, but we’re figuring this all out as we go. And we’re not all the same. This isn’t meant to be a blanket statement about all young adults. This is real life. We’re all figuring out what it means to be an adult in our own way.

Personally, this has meant jumping in and praying that I’ll have people come alongside me and remind me to take it one thing at a time and know that I’m not alone. It’s meant trusting that God will surround me with people who will guide and support me. Of course, it’s been difficult, but the more that I experience, the more I realize just how prepared I actually am for what comes my way.

Maybe leadership for a new pastor who happens to be a young adult, then, is about helping create an environment where that kind of support and guidance might happen in the lives of others. Maybe it’s about assuring others that they don’t have go through life alone. Maybe it’s about recognizing that we’re not all the same but that life unfolds and we learn and experience new things along the way.

So, we’re buying a house. And I’m a new pastor. And I’m learning along the way.

One thing at a time.

I can’t believe someone is actually letting me do this.

Adam ButlerAuthor Bio:
Adam Butler is a recent graduate of the M.Div. program, with an emphasis in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry, at Luther Seminary. Throughout college and prior to beginning seminary, he worked in multiple youth and outdoor ministry settings. He is an avid sports fan, enthusiastic pontooner, a craft beer homebrewer/consumer, and patron of the arts. Currently, Adam serves as an Associate Pastor with emphasis in youth and family ministry at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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