How do you eat an elephant? The answer is: one bite at a time. Taking over the pastoral leadership of a church may seem overwhelming. To your good fortune, you have an advantage that few pastors ever have: a year of getting to know a congregation and the congregation getting to know you. Like stepping into a swimming pool at the beginning of the swimming season, you will have had the opportunity to step in slowly – to get used to the water. Most pastors have to just jump in and take the shock. Either way, most end up saying, "It's not bad once you get used to it."
But the size of the task is as big and long as you can imagine. It potentially could mark off the remainder of your life, even if you should live a long very life. It is like running a marathon. You don't run a marathon like you would run a 100-meter dash. From your very first step you have the long haul in mind. And because you have the long haul in mind you are not easily dissuaded or disturbed by things that show up along the way.
I have a close pastor friend in Maryland whose 35 or so years of pastoring has been plagued by some of the strangest people with the strangest issues/problems. Recently Ruth and I were with him and his wife and we heard even more stories of what he has put up with. Jokingly I talked about the "Maryland folk" and that his troubles were because of those "Maryland folk." Sure, here and there I too have faced some interesting or even difficult situations, but they have been nothing compared to this fellows. So how has he survived? He has obviously kept in mind that he is in this for the long haul. And the truth is, people come and people go. And just as that is true (unfortunately) for some really great people, it is equally true for those with tremendous problems. So, if Mrs. __________ is a problem, remember that, in time, she will either get over her problem or she may move away or attend another church (or maybe move to Maryland and join my pastor friend's church!). You stay the course.
George Whitefield faced tremendous opposition in his early years of preaching. He was another one of those "boy wonders" when it came to preaching: dynamic, loud, and fantastic. Being such he attracted huge crowds who wanted to hear him. This only infuriated the jealous pastors of the churches in the area. And so they opposed him and ridiculed him. Whitefield thus faced opposition from the unbelievers as well as from his fellow preachers. But what was Whitefield's attitude? It was simple: he would outlive them. And so he did. And even though he did not live a long life (he died at age 55) by that point many of his fiercest critics had either died or been won over to him.
So stay the course. Hand to the plow. Don't look back and don't look around. And don't be worried about the rocks you run across while plowing. Work around them, or move them aside, and keep right on plowing.
By His Grace,