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Gordon MacDonald – Wisdom after 50 years of Leadership

Posted on January 30th, 2012

I did a year-long internship at Grace Chapel when I was a seminary student many years ago. I did that in order to learn from Gordon MacDonald, the senior pastor at the time. Over the last 30 years, God has used Gordon as a key mentor in my life. (He is now 72 years). Last week, at the Germany Willow Creek Summit, we had a great deal of time together.

The following are the key points of the message he delivered last week at that conference. His text was: ‘”I have fought the good fight, finished the course…”(2 Tim.4)  Here are some things MacDonald said you can anticipate as a leader over the long-haul:

1. You can anticipate periodic brokenness and rebuilding.   “I have been broken so badly (in leadership) it is a wonder the pieces ever got put back together again. You have a choice you must make every day. Most people will choose to deny the pain or blame others, or you can accept it and in the middle of that pain, you can listen to God. He will say things to you He could not say under any other circumstances.”

2. You can anticipate that your spiritual life will have many ups and downs. This will not change but is part of being a follower of Jesus, even after 50 years.

3. You can anticipate God will open your eyes to new realities in world and people you are to pay attention to. In every decade there will be a surprise. God will lead you so see new things, both in yourself and around you.

4. You can anticipate God will burden you with certain themes over time. The gospel is huge. Expect God to attune you to two or three truths. He will visit you with a theme. Ask yourself, ‘What is theme, or themes, for you?”

5. You can anticipate when younger people begin asking you questions they ask a mother or father. If you are over 50, the needle of your ministry life will move from programs to people.  Focus your life on being a spiritual mother/father to younger people.

What might you add to this list (especially if you over 70!)?

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Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives