It was 30 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.
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 Tim. 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?
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.