Tuesday, 02 January 2018 07:45

If I Could Start Over

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Do you ever wonder what you would do differently if you could start over in ministry? As I draw closer to retirement age (I am 64) I find myself pondering this question more often. The beginning of a new year also challenges us to reflect on new beginnings. (We call them resolutions.)

So, I would like to use this New Year’s post to reflect on things I would do differently if I could start over. Hopefully all of us are considering adjustments we will make in the new year.

First, I would wait on God more. I tend to be a person who impulsively jumps on fresh ideas and projects. Most of these projects are good ideas and they are done as a ministry, but that does not mean they are God’s ideas. I know none of you do this.

Henry Blackaby wrote a classic book when he wrote Experiencing God. The basic premise of that book is, God is at work—join Him. God has plenty of projects. My challenge is to make sure that my projects and God’s projects are one and the same. This action naturally connects to another. Waiting on God is a discipline that requires more reflective praying.

Second, I would spend more time discipling others. We disciple others when we teach, preach, and minister. Much of teaching and preaching is large group discipling. However, Jesus’ greatest investment was in the small group of handpicked followers whom He discipled. He chose twelve. From those twelve he focused more intensely on three. Jesus impacted the world through a small group of disciples He discipled personally.

Third, I would swallow my pride and get a mentor/coach. Coaching was not as popular when I first entered the ministry as it is today. When you are a young pastor you tend to think you know everything. That prohibits coaching and mentoring. Who is better qualified to give directions than the person who has been down the road before you?

There is much a young pastor can and should learn from seasoned veterans. Things such as preparing a sermon, working with people, planning a year’s calendar, visiting people, and the like. A seasoned pastor could save lots of mistakes, if young pastors will take advantage of his wisdom.

Fourth, I would spend much time and effort studying the art and practice of leadership. Along with this I would invest this knowledge into training leaders in the church. The book of Ephesians discusses the work of equipping others for ministry. Pastors are often guilty of doing excessive ministry without equipping others and sharing the load.

Fifth, I would make sure I have a trusted friend/accountability partner with whom I share on a regular basis. This partner can encourage you when you are down. He can be a filter for new ideas. He can hold you accountable for decisions you make. He can stretch you with his thoughts.

These five ideas are not exhaustive. The list could be multiplied many times over. These five are key concepts I would strengthen. The concepts are not regrets as much as things that, I believe, would have made my service to Christ more productive. Greater productivity should be a lifelong goal.

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