“Strive to Be Ordinary”

In my Pastoral Ministry class today B. J. Maxwell, pastor of Unity Baptist in Millington, TN, gave a lecture titled, “Strive to Be Ordinary.” It was an excellent exhortation to pursue faithful ministry to people rather than the trappings of success. I attempted to record it but was unsuccessful. The manuscript should be available soon, and I will link to it.

Maxwell began by rooting pastoral ministry in a proper understanding of the church. Is it a business to keep profitable? A team to be coached? A brand to be marketed? Or God’s redeemed and sojourning people who need shepherding on their journey home? Because the church is a unique entity, pastoral ministry is a one-of-a-kind service. It cannot be approached or defined by categories of this world.

He described pastoral ministry as helping people to die well.

The heart of the presentation was “five rungs for climbing down the ladder toward ordinariness.”

1. Get acquainted with suffering

2. Develop a theology or vocabulary of encouragement. Learn how to encourage God’s people with the gospel.

3. Focus largely on micro-ministry before macro-ministry (i.e. needs of specific people before structural or programmatic issues)

4. Think in terms of decades and generations rather than weeks and years.

“Work today not with an eye to impressing the state paper, but with an eye to shaping your grandchildren.”

5. Recover simple personal discipleship

UPDATE: The manuscript is now available here. Highly recommended!


  1. Todd,
    Good to see you post a comment. I have yet to meet your sons (my fault). I did get out to Phoenix for Josh's installation. A good time was had by all.
    I'm going to forward this post to Josh, just in case he's not linked in regularly.

  2. Gents,

    Even though neither of my sons are 'going in the ministry' I am glad that the faith I'm attempting to pass along (through the church and my sons) is being nurtured at Union by men with a heart like the Van Neste, Maxwell, Dockery, Patterson (James!) variety.

    I know they are part of a coming generation desperately in need of pastors, profs, and dads like this.

    In the Lamb,

    Todd Buck (Sr)

  3. No BJ! The error was actually on my end. It was not set up properly, so you can't take this one! 🙂

  4. "Focus first on micro-ministry not macro-ministry" – But none of the "conferences" say this! (except maybe the Midwest Founders conference?) 🙂
    Just kidding, I am in need of that reminder frequently.

  5. Rung #6: Learn how to operate a simple voice recorder. Sorry for my incompetence, Ray. Thought I'd hit the right button. Or, did I (cruel laugh)?

    Thx again for a great afternoon.

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