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Mar

Hard Lessons Learned (Revisited)

Posted on March 1st, 2011

 

Last week I preached on this at the twentieth anniversary service of Iglesia Nueva Vida. I was senior pastor of the church for five years before Pastor Julio Rodriquez took over leadership and greatly expanded the work. They now number about a 1000 people and have over 90 works in Latin America. You can listen to this bilingual message if you like by clicking here. (I actually begin speaking 1 hour and 12 minutes into the video).  The following are the hard lessons that I wished someone had taught me 24 years ago when I began pastoring: 1. Be Yourself. I spent too much time in my early years trying to be someone I was not. As Rumi said, “To live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage.” David models this for us in 1 Sam. 17 as he takes off Saul’s armor. This takes great courage and faith. 2. Seek God First. Above all else, let your life be about dwelling in His presence and seeking His face (Ps. 27:4). We are not CEO’s or social workers. Our greatest gift is to bring people to an encounter with the living God in Christ. 3. Practice Sabbath-keeping.  The rhythm of a 24 hour period to stop, rest, delight and contemplate God is foundational to ensure we trust God to be in control and not us. This is as key to prayer and Bible study if we are to remain centered in Him amidst the demands of leadership. 4. Lead out of the Vow of Your Marriage (if applicable). Our earthly marriages are a pointer and sign of what it means to be in an eternal marriage with Jesus. There is no greater message we preach. If you are married, it is not an option to live as if you are single. Let this vow inform your decisions, pace, and priorities. 5. Embrace the Gift of Your Limits . Surrendering to God’s love, and not grasping or pushing beyond what He has given us to do, is one of my primary challenges as a leader. As John the Baptist says, “A person can receive only what is given from heaven” (Jn.3:27). 6. Wait on the Lord. This is our life — waiting on Him as a Person (not simply to help us get something done!).  Relax. See Ps. 37:7. 7. Engage Social Media/Technology and the Ancient Church. We take seriously the model of the early church fathers (e.g. Athanasius, Basil, Gregory the Great) who led local churches and prayed their theology. They also engaged their culture with the gospel. Part of our calling now is to bring the gospel to our culture – that involves using Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. 8. Integrity is More Important than Anything. Like Jesus we want to complete the Father’s work in and through us (Jn. 17:4). Regardless of the cost, there is nothing more important than being the same person on the inside that we are on the outside – with God, others and in our leadership. 9. All of Life is Holy and Sacred. Our calling includes our whole life, not just Christian leadership. Recreation, family, business, education, vacations, preparing meetings and budgets are as holy and important as prayer and Bible study. Our calling to Christ is our whole life (Col. 3:23) and will not end until we see Him face to face. 10. Things are not as They Appear. So often what looks like a great blessing is not; what looks terrible in the short run is really a rich gift. Failures are often our best times. I regularly have to remind myself that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed – small, and often almost invisible and imperceptible. What might you add to this list?

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