Todays blog is not to tell you what to do but to tell you what I didn’t do well. My hope is that this blog will encourage you as you reach your world. I have only been in ministry for eleven years and ten of those were on two church staffs (the past eleven months Shanen and I have been in full-time itinerant ministry). As I think about the past and look towards our future, I can think of three mistakes I made during my brief time in ministry. These are things I have corrected and though I have made MANY mistakes I think these were the biggest.
#1: Not spending quality time with my wife.
Please notice the word QUALITY. Shanen and I spent A LOT of time together but that doesn’t mean it was relationship building, life-giving, intimate time. While working at The Church at South Las Vegas we oversaw media, worship, youth, conferences, and the internship program. We never went more than an hour out of each others site. We slept together, ate together, worked together, and went home together (we only have one car). However, that doesn’t mean we were connecting like we should have. Don’t get me wrong, we have always had a good marriage but NOTHING like it is now.
Towards the end of our employment we did better at “turning off” the ministry switch when going home. For the first five years of our marriage there was not a moment that went by that we were not obsessed with ministry success. We now work hard to connect on a friendship level totally separate from what we do. We talk, laugh, cry, bond and love each other on a level we never did before. From the time I was 19, I gave my greatest energy to helping build the church, my wife and Jesus were second to that. That was my fault, but that has changed. My priority now is on my wife and my Savior. Ministry flows OUT of that, relationships flow out of that and friendships flow out of that. Give your spouse your best and watch God bless your marriage.
#2: Not pursuing more time with my pastors.
Notice the word PURSUE. The fact is, you may not be able to get a lot of time with your pastor but you can pursue it. Ask him to coffee, find common interests (If you don’t have any, make them up! During my time working for Pastor Benny, I became a Laker fan and a UFC fan. I also picked up golf. Simply to create more ways to connect.), ask him to lunch and make it happen! I made many excuses for not connecting more with my pastor, all of which were valid. However looking back, I wish I would have broke through my excuses and made this more of a priority.
#3: Being sarcastic.
Kind of random… many times as I tried to pastor and befriend guys my own age (or younger) I would joke with them and that was ok but when I needed to lead them and correct them I would find out they were hurt with me because of my humor. I would always say that they needed to grow up and get over it, but as I look back I wish I would have corrected this! Now I am not saying you can’t joke, just remember your guys can only come back at you so hard because of your position. So they usually have to end up eating humble pie and possibly resenting you in the process. So HAVE FUN, but use discretion. Don’t talk trash on the basketball court, golf course, etc. and then get mad at your guys when they give it back. I am working harder than ever to honor people with my words, those under me and above me. YOU CAN’T LOSE WHEN YOU HONOR PEOPLE.