I want to share 20 important things I’ve learned over the years that can help catapult you to a more peaceful and productive life and ministry.
In 2012 I turned over the church, I had pastored for 30+ years to my anointed younger protégé, and I assumed a new fatherly-type role for young pastors, business people, and high achievers.
So, I speak like a Father today and share with you, pastor, 20 important things I’ve learned and wished I’d learned sooner.
1. I learned that I am totally responsible for my own life
It’s not up to somebody else to fix it for me, design it for me, or make it happen for me. I can’t blame my predecessor or my successor. I can’t blame unruly people or a “bad board.” I am responsible for my own thoughts, words, decisions, and actions.
2. I’ve learned to believe that anything is possible! – Mark 9:23
“We never test the resources of God until we attempt the impossible.”
You can defy the odds, and when God is working with you, anything is possible.
3. I learned that I can’t give up on everybody because somebody hurt me (I Corinthians 11:22-24)
A friend betrayed Jesus, but He didn’t give up on everybody.
Someone will try to tear you down, berate you, misunderstand you, speak against you, lie about you, trash you, hurt you; that’s true. But I learned that I can’t carry that hurt over to everyone or risk losing good people in my life.
4. I’ve learned that things work out better when I use my mouth to speak faith, encouragement and cheer rather than complaining, speaking sickness, lack, and the evening news
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
The Book of Proverbs is replete with the contrast between the life of a loser and the life of a winner. And winning or losing is always associated with one’s words.
5. I’ve learned that in life I’ll never succeed alone
In Acts Chapter 6, the church leaders selected men to help. The result: multiplication and increase
Even Jesus needed help; he needed a circle of friends; a team.
We never succeed alone.
6. I’ve learned that you must love your work…or find work you do love. (Colossians 3:23)
You can accomplish 15 times more in 15 hours of work you love than in 80 hours of unfocused activity you hate. If you don’t love your work, change your attitude, or change your work.
7. I’ve learned that I have to work hard at staying simple and uncluttered.
My messages, lifestyle, and even my closet must remain uncluttered and simple.
8. I’m still learning the power of focus
I’ve found that I can accomplish ten times more in half the time with focused attention. A 150-watt light bulb can light a room. A 150-watt laser can cut through 3″ of steel.
Focus on the important things, not just the urgent things. Get the little book, Tyranny of the Urgent. Everything is urgent in someone’s mind.
The urgent thing is rarely the important thing but it’s the screaming thing.
9. I’ve learned that miracles often happen in times of inconvenience
10. I learned that it’s more productive and profitable to speak by the voice of the Holy Spirit rather the echo of man’s opinion. (I Peter 4:11)
I learned that I can be a parrot (speaking only what I’ve heard other men speak). Or I can be a prophet (speaking what the Spirit of the Lord speaks)
11. I learned that fool’s gold shines but has no value (Matthew 7:15)
That which is born of the Spirit is spirit; that which is born of the flesh is flesh and the flesh profits nothing. Learn the difference between an Ishmael and an Isaac. And discern the difference between the synthetic (man-made) and the authentic (God-made)
12. I’ve learned that there are three monster mentalities that will guarantee my failure and lack
- Victim mentality: Victims are professional blamers and excuse-makers. Victims are attitudinally unqualified to be staff members, board members, or in any kind of leadership.
- Entitlement mentality
- Scarcity mentality
Any of these three attitudinal defects is a disgraceful assault on God’s covenant and His promises and a grievous insult to God Himself.
13. I learned that I must make times of privacy and rest: these times are just as important as the high-powered; high-energy activities and events (Genesis 2:2)
Fatigue can be very costly, extremely expensive. Someone heard that the late Dick Mills was going to take a vacation and a lady in the church sarcastically snapped, “The devil never takes a vacation!” Dick replied, “He’s not my role model!”
If Jesus needed to rest, so do you! God Himself set the example for us on day seven
14. I’ve learned that I have to keep getting back up again (Proverbs 24:16)
Life has setbacks, having done all to stand—stand—hang in there. Tenacity. Most of the time, the thing you think is going to take you under is the very thing God is going to use to take you over.
“Nothing is ever as bad as it seems, and nothing is ever as good as it looks!”
15. I learned that success sometimes looks like failure at first (Romans 14:8)
The Cross looked like a failure. Then came Sunday!
16. I learned that Jesus really does multiply what you have if you’ll give Him what you have (Luke 6:38)
When you let go of what’s in your hand, God will let go of what’s in His hand.When you give you grow. When you withhold, you diminish.
17. I learned the importance of money—that our spiritual temperature can be measured by our attitudes and actions with money
Luke 16:10-12 NLT
If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?
Wealth is a mindset. Wealth is a choice. Wealth is by Covenant. Deuteronomy 8:18
Wealth is something you attract; it’s about what you become.
18. I learned it’s a sin to be good when God has called me to be great (Luke 10:40-42)
19. learned to believe God’s mercy endures forever (Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1)
When we go through the fire, we feel awful. We will go through the fire.
“Thank you, Lord, for your mercy in those times when we brought it on ourselves.” God will give you another chance
20. I learned that there are only two wills in all of creation
God’s will or some other will. The will of God is reality; every other will is fantasy. God’s plan and His will to bring us into His family have only one option. The only plan: Jesus Christ. Therefore, pastor, prioritize bringing people to Jesus and equipping them for ministry. Don’t miss any opportunity to invite lost souls into the Kingdom.
These are twenty things I wish I’d learned sooner