It was thirty years ago that I began serving a small rural church in southern Indiana. I was so incredibly green then; I’m glad I didn’t always realize it. I loved those people in that church and, for some reason, they loved me too. I had to be one of the most inept pastors in history, but they just continued to show me grace and love me even more.
Now, three decades later, I reflect back on what I’ve learned in ministry. Some lessons came rather naturally; others were very painful.
- God is always faithful. Always. Always. Always.
- My family is my greatest gift beyond my salvation. I wish I always realized it.
- I spent too much time worrying about things that I can’t even remember today.
- I took too many criticisms personally. Most critics weren’t mad at me.
- I always grow stronger when I spend time in the Word and in prayer.
- My wife endured a lot in our ministry. I needed to minister to her more.
- When I can laugh at myself, I am more effective in ministry.
- I learned to be more compassionate through the deaths of my parents and grandson. I can now understand the pain many experience.
- I am always hurt when I hold grudges.
- I need to ask for forgiveness more quickly.
- I need friends to share both the joys and the challenges of ministry.
- I wish my sons had not seen my frustrations when I was a pastor.
- Life is short. Live it totally for Him every moment.
- Some of my most miserable days came when I grew jealous of others in ministry.
- Some other miserable days came when I lived to please people rather than God.
- Children are young but for a season. Some of my greatest joys have been with my three sons.
- I’m not nearly as smart as I sometimes think I am.
- I am always wiser when I listen to the wisdom of others.
- The devil is always looking for a way to trap me (1 Timothy 3:7).
- My success is not measured by the size of my church or the prestige of my organization.
- I’ve had a lot of grace shown to me. I need to pass that gift forward more.
- Some people who disagree with me have proved right.
- I need to mentor more men.
- I am rarely as diligent I should be sharing the gospel.
- Every church has some really mean people. God has called me to love and serve them too.
- I fight pride more often than I’d like to admit.
- Some of my worst moments in ministry were when I lost my temper.
- Encouragement works better than harsh words.
- I need to read more.
- My grandchildren are almost perfect.
What have you learned in ministry? What can you add to this list?
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