Next week, I’ll return to my series on “What I Wish (as a Pastor) that I had Known, Understood, Believed and Lived 30 years ago.” I’ll be sharing “Lesson 8” (out of 12). Next week’s lesson is entitled: “Are You Determined or Stubborn?”
I’ll be talking about the difference between “Spirit-motivated determination” and “flesh-driven stubbornness.” The main focus of this lesson will be upon the importance of perseverance, resolve, diligence, ‘grit,’ and not giving up.
Early on in my ministry years, to say that I was “stubborn” would have been an understatement. The problem was that I thought I was simply “determined.” I was trying to be like Jesus when He “set His face like a flint” toward Jerusalem (Isaiah 50:7, Luke 9:51).
As we’ll see next week, determination is a good, godly attribute, and one that I believe is absolutely necessary if a person is to be effective in the “long haul” of ministry. But many times we mistake good determination for fleshly stubbornness. The Israelites were “stubborn” and “stiff-necked.” Not great qualities to emulate.
Stubborn people create many of their own problems. Often times, the negative situations they find themselves in are due to the fact that they are unwilling to “bend,” “adjust,” “compromise” on any issue or position. On the other hand, people who are effective in ministry are determined and persevere through thick and thin. They don’t quit and give up when the going gets tough or God doesn’t seem to be blessing the way they think He should.
There are a variety of verses that relate to this, including 1 Corinthians 15:58, where it says, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (NASB)
Effective pastors are steadfast, determined and persevere through hard seasons of life and ministry. At the same time, they are always aware that “Spirit-motived determination” can easily become “flesh-driven stubbornness.”
We’ll talk more about that next week.
Today, I wanted to share a great blog post that I came across by Pastor and Author Jared C. Wilson entitled…
Lessons Learned from 15 Years of Awkward Ministry and Occasional, Providential Brilliance
As I read this post, I was saying “Amen!” to many of the lessons he mentions. Here are a few of those lessons he’s learned (you can read the full blog post here)
Becky and I celebrating 15 years of marriage this year (last June 29) helped me to remember that this October will mark 15 years since I was “licensed for gospel ministry” by The Brook Church (in Houston, TX)… and while I am not a wizened veteran pastor, I have learned a few things serving in and working for churches over the last 15-17 years….
I’m a guy who finds landmines by stepping on them. And every success I’ve enjoyed has been mostly accidental on my part, God working providentially and brilliantly perhaps through a little of my guesswork but wholly through his goodness. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years:
- If you don’t regularly Sabbath, God will force you to take one. And those aren’t the fun kind.
- 7 times out of 10, the first-time visitor who just loves everything about your church and seems totally on fire for the whole shebang and promises to plug into everything, won’t be back the next week. 9 times out of 10 they drop out after a few weeks.
- If you take the credit for the increase, you have to take the blame for the decrease.
- Take the responsibility that’s yours, coach others into theirs, and trust God with the rest. You are so not a big deal.
- Always be proactive about conflict and conflict resolution. Most times conflicts can be resolved amicably if you act very quickly. Whatever you do, don’t avoid it.
- It’s never worth offending God to please others. Be faithful first. Unreasonably disgruntled people can get happy in the same pants they got mad in.
- The people who say “I’m not being fed” are as equally likely to be shallow, superficial Christians who love pop psychology as they are to be stereotypically pharisaical “churchy” people. No one type has a market on consumerism.
- Also: Sometimes people who say “I’m not being fed” aren’t and have legitimate concerns that shouldn’t be ridiculed and written off.
- Focusing on budgets and butts in the seats is a losing game.
- You are just as likely to reach burnout through neglect of the Scriptures as you are through ministerial busy-ness.
- You can’t fix anybody.
- Soaking in the gospel is amazing for confidence. And for humility.
- Don’t hesitate to defend your wife’s right to pick her own friends.
- You can find another local church. You can’t find another family.
- I believe I’ve learned a lot, and by God’s grace I learn more new things every day, but those are some of the hard-won lessons that stand out.
Next week, we’ll move to Lesson 8 – “Are You Determined or Stubborn?”