5 Lessons I'm Learning as a Pastoral Intern (Willis Covington)

5 Lessons I’m Learning as a Pastoral Intern at WinBap

Mallory and I are fresh off the two-month mark since our arrival in Winchester. It seems as though these eight weeks have gone by in an instant, yet they have been filled to the brim with activity. This internship has been a tremendous blessing, allowing me to learn and grow in my calling while being part of a wonderful, godly faith family. We can’t express our thankfulness enough to be a part of a healthy church, one that has grafted us in like we’ve been here our whole lives. Today I’m going to share the top five lessons I’m learning or ways that I’m growing. I hope by God’s grace this will be an encouragement to you.

1) The Sufficiency of the Word of God

This one I know so well, yet understand so little. That’s because in my heart, I’m still learning to trust the power of God’s Word as well as recognize its sufficiency in and through me. As a young preacher with only a taste of vocational ministry, I still have an inclination to rely too heavily on what I bring to the table. I act and even believe at times that it’s really up to me – my zeal, my preparation, my preaching, my skills. While I’m thankful for God’s calling on my life, I’m growing in the realization that God uses the weak to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:26-31). It’s not about me or how well I can do, but the fact that God’s Word is sufficient to accomplish God’s purposes, no matter the messenger. May we boast in our weakness, to the praise of His strength and grace.

2) The Attitude of Others-Mindedness

Others-mindedness resonates with me more than a word like selfless. Others-mindedness gives me a tangible idea of what selflessness actually looks like. It’s a mindset, an attitude that flows from the heart. It’s convicting because many times my thoughts are preoccupied with my own comfort, ease, and convenience. Others-mindedness gives me a way to focus my prayers; something crisp and clear to ask the Lord to do in my heart and in my thoughts. It’s something that the Lord alone can do, which not only points me to how much I need Him, but frees me from having to muster up something that isn’t naturally in me. Ultimately, I want to be others minded because of the ultimate others-mindedness of our Lord.  He died to free me from bondage to myself so that I can freely spend myself for others. What this means is that, instead of spending my evenings doing my own thing, we have someone over for dinner. It means making the time to meet someone for coffee and discussing life and scripture. It means being attentive to the ways my wife feels most loved, not the way I think is best (a walk around the block rather than a Netflix splurge). The Lord is using this internship and this church to work that in me.

3) The Present Reality of God’s Goodness

My wife and I, thankful as we are for all that the Lord has done for us and provided for us, have hit some hard roadblocks in our three short years of marriage. Not only does it seem like we meet challenge after challenge, but it doesn’t help feeling as if we’re in perpetual limbo, not knowing where we’ll live or where we’ll go next. And sometimes that makes it hard to really see God’s goodness. But one thing the Lord has been teaching me is trusting that He is good even if it’s hard to see it. And the thing is, I really do believe God is good and He is sovereign, but being forced to really trust those things is another battle. God’s goodness to me is not based on how clear it is to me at the moment, but on the fact that He did not spare His own Son for me.

4) The Value of Themed Worship Services

I have been a member at a few different churches now, but I have not been a member of one that conducts a worship service around one, central theme. They have all been structured, but the difference is that a worship service that revolves around a theme fixes our mindset on that aspect of God’s character and His work for me in Christ. Every Sunday we walk in the doors distracted and not in a worshipful mindset. The theme helps us to focus on that particular aspect of God and prepares us to see it in His Word read and preached. The theme takes us from generic to specific, like admiring a vast mountain, yet stopping to appreciate the beauty of its many trees, mossy boulders, bold rock faces, or flowing slopes.

5) The Benefit of a Plurality of Elders

There are many churches that can become a one-man show, with one guy who ends up calling the shots and a church that often ends up reflecting the personality of that guy. With a plurality of elders, decisions can reflect the personality of the whole congregation because each elder is bringing a different set of ideas, thoughts, and concerns to the table, a reflection of the diversity of those things in the congregation. I’m thankful that Winchester Baptist Church isn’t about Tim White, Nick Horton, or any personality, but about honoring the Lord through accountability and the realization that, “without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).