If you’re reading this, you’re older than you’ve ever been.
That’s no big deal. Right?! But age should mean something in terms of maturity.
I’m a tad past the half-century mark. However, I’m not the same man I was when I started in ministry. My approach when I began was, well, naive and less mature.
I thought I knew so much. My giftedness was going to revolutionize the world. That’s the nature of naivety.
The older I get, the more I know I need to grow more. But quite honestly, there are weeks when I feel inadequate. There are dark moments when I think, “I have no clue what I’m doing.”
Then I remember where I came from and see that I have grown.
Granted, some people grow older but do not become better. Experience alone does not mean improvement. But evaluated experience from various mistakes can cause leaders to improve significantly.
I’m serving in what I will describe as my fourth major assignment as a God-called church leader. I’ve seen a lot more than I initially thought existed, led through many egregious seasons, and learned a lot from those experiences.
What’s different about me? A whole lot!! But I’ll only point out 3 that can help my ministry peers.
1) I don’t wait around for permission to lead.
That’s what God called me to do.
When I was a younger man, I assumed I needed permission to do anything other than preach and teach. Nowadays, I presume more leadership than ever. Granted, some of this has to do with organizational culture.
Nonetheless, there’s a vast difference between the assumptions of my past and the pastoral leadership I now presume daily. That doesn’t mean I act as a lone ranger. I listen to staff and welcome input from my council, but I lead more proactively than ever.
It’s my responsibility to give it and theirs to respond.
2) I don’t take it personally when people refuse the invitation.
If you think I should have always thought way, you’re right. But I haven’t. However, that caused me to improve. I needed to look outside of my circle and learn different methods.
First, I’m discussing the invitation to work with me or “follow me as I follow Christ.” Life and ministry come in cycles and seasons. And in some of those, some of us simply aren’t designed to work complementarily with each other.
Secondly, I’m thinking about the altar invitation to prayer ministry. I ain’t too proud to beg. Yet, I refuse to believe it’s my fault if people don’t respond. I lament it on Sunday; by Monday morning, I’ve mentally moved on toward the next service. In every service, some souls need to commit to Christ, holy living, and deliverance from an assortment of vices. God is always willing to help every soul, but the decision to call upon Him and receive is their responsibility.
3) I don’t take the highs and lows as epic indicators of my success.
They are just different legs of the journey.
Consider the emotional ups and downs that are a significant part of the ministry. I like to celebrate every little high and accentuate them with gratitude. But many emotional lows come along because we are people, and people let each other down.
I’m also thinking about the attendance highs and lows of worship services. Sadly, many people base their attendance on the weather or attend services when they can’t think of anything better to do. People get consumed with their own lives, and their attendance usually does not reflect my leadership. God is not impressed with this lack of discipline. And I refuse to get depressed about it.
God and His Word define my success. I am successful because I’m faithful to God’s call for my life and growing in the gifts He’s given me. If I am devoted to those two, and my relationships with those I love the most are in harmony when I die, I’ll consider myself to have finished well.
Let me sum this up for my ministry-minded peers.
1) Learn the big difference between what it means to assume and what it means to presume. If you know the way, then lead.
2) Learn to refuse responsibility for others’ free will. It’s their responsibility to follow God’s leadership.
3) Learn to define success as what happens throughout the journey. Don’t be led astray by the highs and lows; grow on.
I want to learn from you too.
Please answer this question if you’re near or past the half-century mark. What life lessons are clear to you with the advantage of Spirit-filled hindsight?
3 thoughts on “3 BIG Differences about Me & Ministry”
‘The older I get, the more I know I need to grow more. But quite honestly, there are weeks when I feel inadequate.’ This echoes my own thoughts William. While I sometimes wish I had travelled a little quicker I realise that it takes time to grow anything and our spiritual journey must be completed at a speed set by God, not by us. I’m 63 and still learning, still growing, still expecting more, still wanting more of Him.
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That’s comforting Brother- to know that I’m not the only one that sees a need to keep moving and growing. Our gifts, service, and rate of growth all appear to be governed by God’s gracious care. But I still need to cooperate better with His plans.
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