You are the new pastor? Thank God YOU’RE here! —  November 17, 2013
I was the brand new pastor. I had not even unpacked my 1,000 boxes, when the first invitation to dinner came. I readily agreed since I never miss out on an opportunity to eat. The food was great. The conversation? Not so much. All I heard for a couple of hours was how bad the church was, how evil the leaders were, how politics and backroom deals had messed up the church. But, “oh thank heaven, for Roger Hernandez. You will fix all of it.” The worse tragedy that night was not the critical spirit I heard, but the fact that I believed a very common lie in ministry: “No one fear, the new pastor is here”.  I believed I was the fix-all. I wasn’t.

Whether this is your first district or not, it’s important you watch out for the following landmines:

1. Givers.  

Be careful about people that give you things without even knowing you. I mean, who does that?  This is a good principle to follow: the earlier and more significant the gift, the higher the likelihood that gift will come from an unhealthy giver. It’s true what they say. There are no free lunches. Especially in ministry. One thing you DON’T want to do in ministry is owe anyone anything. Because believe me, there will come a time where you will have to pay back. Now, to be fair, not all gifts are bad. Just be careful.

2. Talkers.

I don’t know why, but usually the first person that invited me out to dinner always had some issues with the previous pastor or the present leadership. Whoever invites you to their house to talk about others, will eventually invite others to talk about you. This one is so dangerous, because it feeds our ego and reaffirms the reason why we became pastors in the first place: to help people and to fix things! One of my first declarations from the pulpit and in the board is that there will be no commenting on past administrations. We must move on. Living in the past, whether that past was good or bad, benefits no one.

3. Bodyguards.

I have found that those that are the most vocal early about their support for you, can eventually turn on you. Expressions like “I got your back” and “Pastor, I heard someone talking about you and they were saying such and such” are red flags. Whoever has a lot of information about the opposition usually belongs to it. You appreciate the sentiment, but don’t use them as spies. Let God defend you. After all, you could be wrong.

Coming into a new district is a great experience. Enjoy it, with your eyes wide open.

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