10 in 10: Ten things I have learned after ten years of full time ministry.
This past Sunday, Memorial Day Sunday, marked the completion of my 11th year in ministry, 10 of which has been full-time. Like most people my journey started with a man who saw more in me than I could see in myself. This man is still my hero in ministry and I owe so much to him! So, thank you Matt McGue for taking a risk on a 20-year-old kid with big fake diamond earrings 11 years ago.
Over the last 10 years of serving at the same church in full-time ministry I have learned so much. Here are my top 10:
10. The more you trust the more you experience.
For most pastors and Christians, “fear” is the greatest threat to their faith. I can honestly say that the times in ministry when I took big, “Holy Spirit risks,” the reward has paid off the most. The reason why most people don’t want to take risks for God is because they are afraid of failure. I have learned that I would much rather look bad (fail) then never see God move in a mighty way on my behalf.
9. I will let people down.
The hardest thing I have had to learn in ministry is that “I will let people down.” I know that statement even of itself seems a little brash, but it’s true. Once I discovered that Jesus disappointed a lot of people…the Pharisees, people who still needed to be healed, even his own disciples…I realized that the more focused your life and ministry is the more people you will disappoint. Everyone who comes to a church has an expectation of the pastor, but if you try to please everyone you will end up pleasing no one.
8. Performance is a trap.
Ministry is difficult because you’re doing it for the Lord but people give you the praise. I have learned that if my main focus is performance it’s a trap every time because it will never be good enough.
7. Anyone can replace me.
Just typing that above is humbling. The reality is that anyone can replace me as lead pastor of Lifepointe and if I’m honest that’s a good thing. Great leaders are always looking for someone to replace them. What I have realized in 10 years of ministry is that anyone can replace me as pastor but no one can replace me as a Father, and a Husband. That’s the most important ministry I have, to my family!
6. The Church is ALIVE!
People who think that church is irrelevant and dying tells me that they have never been to Lifepointe! We are watching God do some incredible things at a pace we have never experienced. One of my favorite parts of ministry is watching people take Next Steps towards Jesus, and for the last 10 years I have had a front row seat watching God move.
5. Choose Health over Growth.
In my first five years in ministry, if i was honest, I would have chosen growth over health. Now I see the value for health over growth. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint, and I want to finish well. Just because something is BIG doesn’t mean it’s healthy. However, if something is healthy it will naturally grow.
4. Great leaders make great churches.
That statement above is one that I will go to the grave with. Churches that are thriving, growing, and Gospel-centered have great leadership that helps move the church in that direction. As a 32-year-old lead pastor I am so blessed to be surrounded by great men and women who believe in me and this local church, and who love Jesus.
3. Its okay not to be okay.
Some pastors believe that they have to give the appearance that they have it all together. This often results in a very closed off pastor who doesn’t really allow people to look into their life. I think I have built so much credibility over the years because I am who I am. I bring God glory through my weakness and I show people that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s just not okay to stay that way.
2. The Gospel really is Good News.
The greatest thing that has come out of my first 10 years in full-time ministry is a better understanding of just how much God loves me, and just how amazing his grace really is. Grace does more than save you, it sustains you and propels you to live the life Jesus created you to live. When Jesus becomes a relationship you have, rather than a list of rules you follow, then the good news of Jesus really becomes GOOD!
1. I’ve got one shot.
I saved this as the number one thing I have learned in 10 years because it reminds me that this life is my “one shot.” I’ve got one shot to do all I can do to reach people for Jesus. I’ve got one shot to build His church. I’ve got one shot to raise up leaders so Lifepointe outlives me. I’ve got one shot at being a dad. I’ve got one shot at being a husband. Because life is short I don’t want to come to the end and think “what if?” What if I would have risked more, given more, believed more? No, I want to lay it all on the line and watch Jesus move in a mighty way on my behalf.
10 years are now behind me and I can’t wait for the next 10! The best is yet to come.