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15 Lessons in 15 Years

April 16, 2012

This week I celebrate 15 years in full-time ministry. As I begin my 16th year, I spent some time narrowing down the 15 big lessons I’ve learned. Here they are in no particular order:

1. My legacy is my family not my ministry

I’m serving at my 3rd church in 15 years. Though I hope to be here a long time, the odds are our church will probably have another Community Life Pastor someday. But I am the only husband Ginger will ever have and the only dad my kids will ever have. I wish I could say that I’ve completely figured this one out with perfect balance.

Still working to improve in this area but the effort is worth it!

2. My Character is More Important Than My Reputation

If I worry too much about other’s opinion then it probably reveals I’m not worried enough about God’s. The Righteous Judge sees all. That means I should live my life more concerned with my character than my reputation.

This is so hard to learn. Over the last few years I have grown in this area. Typically, the process of “maturing” in this area isn’t pleasant . . . but necessary.

John Wooden said “Your reputation is who people think you are, your character is who you really are.”

3. Comfort is Over-rated

Changed lives and comfort don’t co-exist. In my life and ministry I’ve observed God changing lives more often during or after discomfort (tragedy, disappointment, hurt, failure, etc.). I still value comfort but not as much as I used to.

God’s will for each of us is less abut our comfort than our contribution – Erwin McManus

4. My personal growth is up to me personally

Some churches are “leadership factories”. However, some churches insulate lazy staff. Either way, you have to take responsibility for your personal growth regardless of your church or company’s contribution to the process. You and I must invest in mentors, coaches, conferences, ministries, books, blogs, and other people who are where we want to be.

I used to be frustrated because “they” didn’t value leadership development as much as me. But now I refuse to blame someone else for my lack of personal growth.

5. Chemistry is important

If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to be productive. Chemistry is hard to measure but it is worth discovering. I wrote about how to measure chemistry here. Don’t under-estimate the importance of good team chemistry.

Would I be happy to see this person’s number on my caller id? This is part of what I’m thinking when deciding where to serve and who to serve alongside.

This is 5 of the 15 lessons. Tomorrow, I’ll share the next five.

Making myself stop and articulate these lessons has been fun. I’d encourage you to create a personal list of the primary life lessons you’ve learned.


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