NASHVILLE (BP)—Thinking about the end from the beginning is something a Guidestone consultant says pastors must do if they want to finish well. Mark Dance says transitions need to be well planned whether they are in the church or in the final days of one’s life.

“We (pastors) probably won’t ever fully exit ministry,” Dance told Baptist Press. “But when we transition, are we going to do it well?”

Mark Dance is the director of pastoral wellness for Guidestone Financial Resources. He served as a senior pastor for 27 years before becoming a vice president with Lifeway. He also served Oklahoma Baptists as a regional ministry partner and director of pastoral development prior to his role with Guidestone.

He discussed steps to finish well on Baptist Press This Week, BP’s weekly TV interview show.

Dance says he’s saw an example of finishing well as his father died in 2021.

“The last thing he did before he went to bed for the last time was to kiss my mom and tell her he loved her,” he said. “And that’s a strong finish right there. Finish with your covenants intact. Your relationships intact.”

Dance acknowledged that only God knows the end from the beginning. But he said there are some helpful tips pastors can heed if they want to be strong when they cross the finish line.

He encourages them to be mindful of their health. Even as pastors care for God’s flock, he said, they must care for their own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fitness.

Just like they call church members to grow in their faith, pastors should be maturing spiritually. Dance believes all Christians, including pastors, need help in this area.

“Who are we allowing into our lives to help us grow?” he asked.

Looking back to the first days of his spiritual walk, he remembered how others played significant roles.

“When I first became a Christian, my youth minister taught me how to have a quiet time,” he said. “There are no secrets or shortcuts. This is basic Christianity 101. We (pastors) grow the same way everyone else grows, right?”

Dance encourages pastors to find someone who is more spiritually mature than they are to pour into them.

At age 57 he said he is beginning to see the finish line when it comes to vocational ministry and, even now, he is preparing for what life may look like on the other side if God gives him the opportunity.

In his work at Guidestone, Dance wants to help other pastors do the same no matter where they are in the race of life.

“At Guidestone, we want to help build resilience in the pastor’s life any way that we can.”

You can watch the full interview with Dance on the ACTS2 Network or on the Baptist Press YouTube Channel.