Friday, May 17, 2013

Leading in the Early Days of Ministry

I have spent the past week at Parkside's Basics Conference. I have tried to share each day something I learned relationally through the teaching or interaction with other pastors. This morning, I wanted to add one more thing I learned from a breakout session with Thabiti Anaybwile.

His session was on starting over without leaving. He tried to impress upon us that it is very easy to begin a new ministry without the right motives. We think they are right, but they are probably focused upon ourselves and not the people to whom we are ministering. I am now part of the way through my third year at Cornerstone Bible Church. Early on when I came here, people would ask me about the ministry. They wanted to know how it was going. My general response was that it was better than I thought it would be. Now, maybe my expectations were low or it really was going well. Either way, I was excited about what was happening here.

I still am. However, I couldn't help but think while Thabiti was talking that there may have been times in these first two years in which I have pushed too fast and hard. There are sure things I wish I could undo that I did in these first two years. I wish I would have been more patient. I wish I would have spent more time with some people. While I can't go back in time, I can certainly learn from those mistakes.

At the end of his message, he gave a list of 10 ways to respond in order to start over. I do not think I am need of starting over, but this list was very helpful for me.
1. Listen to your critics.
2. Keep your mouth shut & don't talk out of school.
3. Recognize that not all disagreement is opposition.
4. Let other leaders set the pace as much as possible.
5. Take all the controversy off the table.
6. Recognize that the messiness is the ministry.
7. The only thing I have to change is me.
8. Declare your intention to serve the church.
9. Set an example for everyone to follow.
10. Explain everything in detail (teach, teach, teach).
The first one is so hard for me. It is difficult to listen to your critics. It is very easy to come into a new ministry position as the expert. I am the one with the doctorate in pastoral ministry. I am the one who has the experience. But I know that with every critical statement, there is some truth in which I need to learn. Combine that thought with the third thought, that not every disagreement is opposition, and you can find a helpful way to respond to people when they do not agree with you. I need that.

I know our ministry has changed since I have been here. I hope it has been for the good and not the bad. At the end of the day, I pray God continues to use me as a humble servant, leading His church that He is building all to His glory. I count it a privilege to just be part of it.

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