If I Could Start Over (part two)

coffee.jpgIf 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? 

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10 thoughts on “If I Could Start Over (part two)

  1. I love #5–you are so right about how easily we confuse pleasing people with loving people. Jesus certainly was not afflicted with the "disease to please", but He demonstrated love. Sometimes not pleasing someone we love does them far more good in the long run than if we always tried to please them. Good thoughts.

  2. Lisa,Thanks very much.  I suspect the intense desire to please says more about one’s own insecurity than it does about that person’s love. 

  3. Wade,That is a good question.  While these are things I have learned, I continue to make mistakes and at times repeat what failed the first time. 

  4. How many of these, however, are lessons that MUST be learned by life (i.e. by mistakes!).  I remember older ministers telling us most if not all of these things when I was in Bible college and seminary, but I (and most of my peer, I believe) did not listen.  We "were different."  We were not weak.  We were committed.  We would change the face of the church.  It surely wasn’t as hard to remain focussed as most of them made it out to be.We were wrong.  It was.

  5. Cal,Good observation.  I remember some of those same thoughts.  "We" would not make some of these same mistakes.  Time and the experience of life has humbled me.