15 Lessons in 15 years
I want to finish this Spring Break Special by sharing some lessons I've learned over the past 15 years. They vary in significance and complexity. Some I learned the hard way. Some caught me off guard. Some I notice by paying only mild attention. Some may help you. Some helped me. Some won't help anyone. As penance for being late with this post I'll throw in a couple extra:
- The myth of the hero leader is just that -- a myth.
- Curriculum is generally dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator. Publishing houses are under such pressure to sell copies that curriculum has to be devoid of controversial (read "doctrinal") content.
- People generally make up their minds before they consult their pastor. Then they hope he will tell them what they want to hear.
- Conflict presents great opportunity for spiritual progress. . . and for disaster, I suppose. Conflict and progress are directly proportional.
- What a person believes about God makes more difference than anything else.
- God's people are unbelievably generous.
- It takes years to develop spiritual strength and we all want it now. Suffering is the only shortcut. Discipline over time is the only other way.
- Fatigue doesn't just make cowards of us all, it makes us all depressed!
- People leave the church for a variety of reasons. It is not always the pastor.
- If someone comes to the church because they had a problem with their previous pastor, it is only a matter of time 'til they have problems with me.
- Spiritual leadership at home is hard. Husbands abdicate it to their wives. Parents delegate it to the children, letting them pick a church or decide whether or not to have family devotions. Spiritual leadership is delegated downward.
- The pastoral task is to stand up and remind people of the greatness of God and the certainty of his promises. This is true whether you are at the bedside of someone who is dying, counseling, or behind a pulpit. It is a simple job really.
- God is sovereign over the deployment of his servants. If someone will be of more use to him in another church or in another country He will see that they get there.
- There is no substitute for preparation. The best meetings are those that have been thoroughly rehearsed before anyone even shows up.
- Pastors don't really hang out together. Maybe they aren't very interesting. . . at least to themselves.
- Pastoral ministry is impossible without supernatural power. I cannot take away someone's pain. I can provide wise enough counsel. I can't make someone hopeful. All I can do is pretend unless God shows up.
- It is impossible to make too much of Jesus.