Forty things I have learned in these decades of ministry

I’m a couple months short of hitting the birthday some have named Eighty.  Oh, my goodness.  That’s a huge number.  As one who was often the youngest in the room or the youngest to do a lot of things, reaching this age comes as a mild surprise. It happened so quickly–and effortlessly.  All I did to achieve it was to keep on breathing.  (I’ve gotten rather good at that, and hope to keep it up for a while longer.)

April of 2021 will mark sixty years since God called me into the ministry. So, you’d think I would have learned a few things by now.  I sure hope so.

Here are some of the lessons the Lord has been trying to teach me over these decades…

  1. If you do not like change, you’re going to have trouble following Jesus.
  2. Whatever you do to the church, Jesus takes personally.
  3. Scripturally, love is something we do. An action, not an emotion.
  4. To love Jesus is to obey Him. End of discussion.  (See John 14 and 15)
  5. To love Jesus is to love His people.  If you don’t, you don’t.
  6. Joy is the flag flown from the castle of your heart to show the King is in residence.
  7. Every church needs a little conflict.
  8. The best test of your faith is your prayer life.
  9. Unity in the church is directly connected to its success in evangelism.  John 17:21,23
  10. Jesus is more willing to give than we are to receive, more willing to bless than we want to be blessed.
  11. Only the strong can humble themselves and serve.  The weak just cannot bring themselves to bow down.
  12. Pastors are not sent to make the congregation happy but holy and healthy and to make Jesus happy.
  13. Never ask God for anything in prayer if you are not willing to wait for the answer.
  14. Christians expecting life to be easy may want to stop and read their Bibles.
  15. God seems to have a low threshold for boredom as He never makes the same thing identical and is always creating new things.
  16. No one can eat your food for you, make love for you, or believe for you. Some things you have to do for yourself or it will not get done.
  17. Without faith it is impossible to please God.  That’s Hebrews 11:6.
  18. When God gets ready to do a big thing, He loves to start small.
  19. God does the best things with the most ordinary people.
  20. Anyone who thinks because a technique worked well once that God will be using it again and again may want to read His dealings with Israel.
  21. Since He has all the time in the world, God doesn’t mind taking it.
  22. Other than what the name implies (“servant”), nowhere does Scripture say what deacons are to do.
  23. We do not know how to pray as we should.  I don’t, you don’t, no one does. That’s Romans 8:26 and it must be all right.
  24. Anyone who plans to “start tithing just as soon as we get all the bills paid and a little ahead” is attempting something never before done and trying to please God without faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says it won’t happen.
  25. No matter how faithful and diligent you are, you have no idea what God will do with you.
  26. No decision of a church is more important than its choice of a leader.
  27. God makes the pastors the overseers of the church. That’s Acts 20:28.
  28. The ministry is no place for wimps.
  29. Poor preaching is God’s judgment on a prayerless congregation.
  30. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.
  31. If you cannot submit and follow, you cannot lead.
  32. If you do not enjoy serving God and loving God’s people, He will not make you go to Heaven. That would be cruel of Him.
  33. To change the future, bless a child.  Those wanting to change the past should stop that foolishness and make the most of the time they have remaining.
  34. It matters little to the Lord whether He saves by the few or by the many.  That’s I Samuel 14:6.  It was spoken by young Jonathan but it’s still gospel.
  35. We will each stand before the Lord and account for how we have treated His children.  If that doesn’t strike terror into your heart, you’re not paying attention.
  36. Ever since Calvary, death for believers has not been that big a deal.
  37. No one can proclaim “Jesus is Lord” and “I am clever” at the same time.
  38. If everything has to be perfect before we are grateful, we will never give thanks to anyone for anything.
  39. The best test of your servant spirit is how you act when someone treats you like one.
  40. The authority on my religion is my wife.  A frightening thought.

As other “lessons” come to mind, I’ll jot them down and then make a decision whether to amend this list and lengthen it, or to create a new page.

It’s actually a good exercise. I recommend you try it.

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