So far in my series entitled “What I Wish (as a Pastor) that I had Known, Understood, Believed and Lived 30 Years Ago,” we have covered SIX of the TWELVE “lessons” in the series.

One of my long time pastor friends from North Carolina was kind enough to remind me that it has been a bit confusing “which lesson you are on” and “how many more there will be in the series.” I apologize for any confusion.

In order to clear up any potential confusion, I have gone back and titled each blog post in this series as “Lesson #1 (or #2, #3, etc.): “What I Wish (as a Pastor)…”

For some of the lessons where I spent more than one week on that particular point (for example “Lesson #3” on “your identity”), I labeled each one as “Lesson 3a”, “Lesson 3b” and “Lesson 3c.” This way you will know which “lesson” I’m writing about and how they all fit together.

Also, as you may have noticed, periodically (like this week) I have done a special blog post that was not part of this “What I Wish…” series. For those posts, I have gone back and labeled them as: “Stand Alone Post” before each title. This way you will know right away that this particular post is not connected to this (or any) series.

Because we are now half way through this series (i.e. “halftime”) on “What I Wish…” (we have finished lessons 1-6), I thought that it would be a good idea to recap where we have been so far in this series and where we are headed.

Also, let me mention a very important point here: These 12 lessons that I have and will be sharing, are not necessarily the 12 “most important” lessons that I think a pastor needs to know for godly, effective ministry (some are, some are not). Rather, these 12 lessons are truths and principles that are very personal to me. These are lessons that I wish I had either known, understood, believed and then ultimately lived out throughout my years in ministry.

Most of these truths I knew from my early 20’s. Someone taught me each of these truths (or lessons). But many of them I really didn’t believe or understand until later on in ministry.  For example, Lesson #3 which says, “Your identity is defined by your relationship with Jesus…not your ministry,” I learned and knew very well early in my 20’s. I really thought “I have this one down pat” and therefore thought that I was living it out. But it wasn’t until my mid to late 30’s, after planting a church and being a Sr. Pastor for several years, that I realized that my identity was misplaced (it was through those “four lights on the dashboard,” that I wrote about a  few weeks ago, that revealed this to me).

I was deriving my sense of significance from being a Sr. Pastor, not from my relationship with Christ. So even though I “knew” this lesson in my early 20’s, I really didn’t believe and/or understand it until almost 20 years later. And we will never be able to live out a particular truth if we don’t…

First, know it,

Second, understand it, and

Third, believe it.

Now, just to recap, here are the first SIX lessons that I have covered:

Lesson #1: Decide which hills are worth dying on, and which are not.

Lesson #2: Live to an audience of One.

Lesson #3: Your identity is defined by your relationship with Jesus…not your ministry!

Lesson #4: Ministry will always be challenging and (at times) very discouraging. You must fight the temptation to give in to your discouraging thoughts.

Lesson #5: You must remind yourself daily of this simple, but profound and incredibly comforting truth: God is sovereign and in full control of all the circumstances and details of your life and ministry (this lesson was subtitled: Bites from Sheep and the Sovereignty to God).

Lesson #6: The daily habits of your life will be one of the greatest single factors in your own personal spiritual growth, as well as your future ministry effectiveness. Develop good, healthy, God-honoring habits.

In the coming weeks, I will be covering the last six lessons in this series (lessons #7 thru #12).

Just so you are aware, I will still post “Stand Alone Post’s” periodically. I will mark them clearly so that you will know that they are not part of this series.

My writing of these blog posts is not one of the highest items on my priority list (at least at this point in time), that is why many weeks I don’t write anything substantial or simply pass on to you great articles, quotes, video’s etc. My life (as well as Lisa’s) is extremely full and extremely busy with leading Global Training Network. My weeks are typically jammed from end to end. Even though these blog posts typically only take 4-5 hours to write, many weeks I just don’t have the time. I typically write these in my “spare” time (when I have any).

Also, just for your information, in case you are fairly new to my blog posts, I have posted three other complete “series” throughout last year. Those series are:

“Heaven: Living ‘Here’ in Light of ‘There’” (Six parts)

“The Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing” (Four parts)

“Humility: That Elusive, All-Important, Hard-To-Define Character Trait” (Three parts)

You can click on any of the above titles and it will take you to “Part 1” of that particular series.

A few last thoughts…

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to let me know (either in person or via email) of your benefit and blessing from these blog posts. I really appreciate it and am genuinely humbled that God has (and still does) use such an inadequate and imperfect “clay pot” (or “jar of clay”).

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

(2 Corinthians 4:7)

As the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:16, referring to carrying out this great stewardship called ministry, “Who is adequate for these things?” The obvious answer to Paul’s question is “no one!”

The longer I walk with Jesus and serve Him, the more aware I become of my profound inadequacies and shortcomings. In my 20’s I remember thinking (though would never ever say it), “I think I have this thing (ministry) wired! It’s not that hard. I’m up to the task!” I was ready to “charge hell with a water pistol!”

Through the years God humbles us and breaks us – and that breaking is necessary for the “fragrance of Jesus” to be released through us. Every day I wake up with a profound sense of gratitude for God’s amazing grace and incredible kindness in choosing me to be part of his family and calling me to be his servant. Humbled, grateful and overwhelmed by His Grace! Soli Deo Gloria!

I leave you with this quote from Spurgeon

“Meet me in heaven! Do not go down to hell. There is no coming back again from that abode of misery. Why do you wish to enter the way of death when heaven’s gate is open before you? Do not refuse the free pardon, the full salvation which Jesus grants to all who trust him. Do not hesitate and delay. You have had enough of resolving, come to action. Believe in Jesus now, with full and immediate decision. Take with you words and come unto your Lord this day, even this day. Remember, O soul, it may be now or never with you. Let it be now; it would be horrible that it should be never. Farewell. Again I charge you, meet me in heaven.”

C. H. Spurgeon, All of Grace (London, 1897), page 128.