If I had known then what I know now.
The other day I was thinking about what I have learned in thirty years of working with congregations. There are some things I might do differently now if I were to start over. (See part one here.) If I were to start over with what I know now:
1. I would know that I have other emotions inside me besides anger. Like many other men, I was not aware of what was going on inside of me emotionally with the exception of anger. I did not have a sense of fear, sadness, hurt, etc. Were these emotions present? Yes. I just wasn’t always aware of them much less how to express them.
2. I would know that it is possible to have my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions — regardless. Far too many ministers deny these in order to please certain people in congregations.
3. I would know that other people might be very upset about something and this may or may not be the real issue behind this anger. For instance, a person might be very difficult to deal with in a meeting. She might snap at someone or be insulting. Yet often this anger may have little to do with the people in the room. She may have problems at work, in her marriage, or may be deeply concerned about a health issue.
4. I would know that self-care is critical to ministry. Far too many people just let themselves go spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Healthy ministry is rooted in self-care. I do no one a favor when I ignore my spiritual life, my health, and my relationships.
5. I would know that loving people and pleasing people are not the same. Many years ago, I really believed that if I did everything just right, then everyone would be happy. Consequently, I became far too focused on the happiness of others with my work rather than loving them as Christ loved them.
What would you add to these?