I love watching basketball, I love watching the NBA, and I love watching Inside the NBA on TNT. The show is hosted by Ernie Johnson Jr. who is accompanied by Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley. Johnson essentially plays referee, at times setting up his co-hosts and at times re-directing conversation.
For years I’ve enjoyed Johnson’s broadcasting style on Inside the NBA. Recently I enjoyed his writing when I read Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments that Make Life Extraordinary. Johnson chronicles his life in the book, and I found a story in chapter two particularly applicable to pastors.
As Ernie Johnson Jr. stepped into the world of broadcasting he was guided by the wise advice of his father, Ernie Johnson Sr.
- “Be yourself.”
- “Don’t think you’re special because of the job you have.”
- “Never think you’re bigger than the game.”
- “Treat everyone with respect.”
- “Be loyal.”
- “Once you’ve done your best, to heck with it.”
- “Take the high road.”
When I read these seven statements, I immediately found them applicable to pastoral ministry. Over the last several weeks, virtually every pastor in the United States has become a broadcaster, of sorts. The Coronavirus has forced us all online and behind a camera. We would be wise to take the advice of two veteran broadcasters. However, beyond the online-live-stream-services we’ve all experienced recently, this advice is “home-run,” “slam-dunk” wisdom for regular pastors.
- “Be yourself.” Don’t try to imitate a famous pastor. Find your own voice, and be comfortable in your own skin.
- “Don’t think you’re special because of the job you have.” The “job” of pastor does not make you better than your people.
- “Never think you’re bigger than the game.” You are not bigger than your local church, much less the kingdom.
- “Treat everyone with respect.” Do not give preferential treatment to those with position, money, or influence.
- “Be loyal.” You don’t have to stay in one place forever, but don’t be eager to “advance” your own career or ministry.
- “Once you’ve done your best, to heck with it.” Preach the gospel as best you can, and trust God to produce results.
- “Take the high road.” When you face conflict – when, not if – be a man of integrity and always take the high road.