Cumulative experience is the best!
Well, perhaps I should qualify that first sentence. Cumulative experience can be the best asset of your ministry if you allow it to be.
Sadly, many individuals never allow their experience to propel them into excellence. I’m sure that’s not you because the readers of this blog are much too savvy to live in such sad complacency.
This month, I’m celebrating twenty-five years of spoken ministry. I can’t think of any better way to celebrate it than to write and share it with you.
IF you understand the power of cumulative experience, you’ll also understand this. I have learned so much that there is no way for me to share it all in one writing. But just because I cannot tell it all doesn’t mean I won’t tell any at all.
These three lessons in bold have surfaced. I believe they will be a blessing to your spoken ministry.
- Less makes for best. Your best spoken ministry comes from fewer attempts. This is only true after you’ve had many years of experience. After about ten years of preaching two to three times a week, I was well seasoned with my style and voice. That cumulative experience means I can now preach better even when I preach less often.
Sharing the load with other ministers also brings out your best. Pastor, I strongly encourage you to use others with a spoken ministry when and wherever possible. Enjoy the refreshment that comes from shared ministry.
The message is more important than the messenger. God excels at using many different gifted voices to strengthen His Kingdom.
- God’s Word is the best even when you’re not your best. This messenger is a frail human instrument. There are some Sundays when I’m not my best. Maybe I did too much over the weekend, and I’m tired. Perhaps spiritual warfare has drained me. Maybe I listened to one too many opposing voices. If you’re not a pastor, you’d be surprised by the behind-the-scenes stuff that must be dealt with.
As a pastor, I’m always dealing with two Sundays. There’s one that just passed (what went right and what went wrong). Then there’s the next one I’m preparing for long before Saturday (and a midweek service). For pastors, Sundays always feel closer than one week.
For example, I arose early one recent morning for a trip to the lavatory. While on the way, I got mad. I thought it was Saturday, and I was discouraged that I was feeling so exhausted. I thought, “I can’t believe it’s almost Sunday again.” I was relieved when I realized it was Monday morning, and it was okay to be tired.
It’s an impossible standard to think that you’ll be 100% physically, mentally, and spiritually for every Sunday’s pulpit opportunity.
So hear me out, and let this best word sink into your heart. The message of the Gospel is still the best news ever. Remember, the Holy Spirit can do His best ministry even when you aren’t at your best.
- The best is yet to come. Always believe that. Never stop striving for the best by being a lifelong learner. This practice ensures that my best sermons haven’t been preached YET. The best fruit from my service is still deeply seeded and yet to be seen.
This brings me back to that cumulative experience point. Growing and learning from others as you use God’s gifts will yield the best results after years of accumulation.
I’m at a point where I could rest on my laurels. But the Giver of my gifts would not be pleased with that. So I continue to avail myself of godly resources.
In this twenty-fifth year of spoken ministry, I’ll be completing the National Institute of Christian Leadership. This year-long set of continuing education classes is phenomenal. The instructor, Dr. Mark Rutland, is about twenty-five years older than me, and I think his IQ is twice mine. The challenge of learning and growing from his cumulative experience means that this is a worthwhile investment in my future. So again, I say, the best is yet to come.
These are only a few things I’ve learned along this journey. Lord willing, I’ll be able to engage in powerful spoken ministry for another twenty-five years.
What lessons have you learned that make you better?