This list is personal. It’s a collection of errors from the last 17 years of full-time church ministry. And I write this because even though it is a very personal list, I can hear helpful warnings for you (and me again).
1. When I Exaggerated The Story:
a.k.a. Embellished the truth – a.k.a. Took licence with reality – Lying, basically. It’s one of the biggest temptations a preacher will face. But the truth is beautiful, it’s daring , it’s captivating enough. And it carries more power than any add-ons you can produce.
Say it like it is, or don’t say it at all.
2. When I Ignored My Emotions:
So they became loud enough to NOT be ignored (and it was mostly the bad ones that made an appearance). You might feel spiritual while turning a deaf ear to your heart, but trust me, the fruit will not be helpful or godly.
“It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” – Peter Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
3. When I Became Religious About Being Non-Religious:
Which is a modern form of religion. A more subtle way to ride the high horse. But if in any shape or form you consider others to be missing the mark… then you’re missing the Gospel of Jesus for yourself.
4. When I Told Other People To, “Get Over It”:
I said it a nice way. I sounded spiritual and caring. But it was the fleshy advice of someone who didn’t care. I didn’t want to be that someone, but most of the time I was so consumed with the things I was dealing with in my own life, that I had nothing else to give. From now on, I’m going to try my best to just listen.
5. When I Pretended To Be Humble:
(Which is the most prideful thing). You share enough to appear humble, but not enough to actually be humbled. Our generation is enamoured with the idea of vulnerability, but we kind of suck at it. It has become a marketing tool to appear approachable. It’s the hipster thing to do. But we still want control. We’re still ashamed. So we hide.
6. When I Spent Time With God So He Would Give Me a Great Sermon:
Which is like prostituting the anointing. Which is deception and manipulation. Which was using the Holy Spirit for my own glory. #NoBueno
7. When I Booked Too Many Meetings:
It’s like an addiction. A need to meet again and again. I guess we do it because we like the people we work with. We try to communicate as best as possible. But the “meeting” became the driver. I forgot to value the faces and began to focus on the agenda. I realised that I was communicating unspoken messages like,”I don’t trust you”, “I need to keep my eyes on you” “Unless I lead you in this project/strategy/situation you will fail”
8. When I De-Valued People’s Desires
And minimised their personal dreams. However, people are at their best when they are doing what they want. We all love choices. Especially our own. And God seems to be ok with that.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps.37:4
9. When I Started To Fall In Love With Western Christianity:
Which made me fall out-of-love with Christ. Dumbest. Move. Ever.
10. When I Believed The Lie, “Ministry Is A Lonely Place”:
Which gave me permission to be a hermit, to play the victim card… Enough of that junk! We were created for community. This is not a cute church slogan, it’s a reality for survival.
11. When I Kept Looking Back At The Sound Guy:
Using facial expressions to convey my annoyance. Or when I texted him a million times about the volume, the guitar, the drums, the vocals. Imagine if we treated the preacher the way the preacher treats the sound guy? To all the sound guys in the world: I LOVE YOU and respect you. Thank you for serving us so well!
12. When I Thought My Sermon Was Awesome:
Or thought my sermon sucked bad. Both self-centred reactions. Just had to trust God with what came out of my mouth. 50% of it was my opinion. The other 45% was the opinions of others. The 5% left was probably God (probably) (I hope). And I have to trust that He loves me, and the crowd, enough to do wonders with that 5%.
13. When I Pretended Like The News Did Not Matter:
So I kept quiet about racism and misogyny and hatred and murder and etc and etc and etc. My fear was offending the audience. Trying to please everyone in the crowd (especially the rich people who donated good money).
But that’s called being a coward, not a leader.
If something is wrong, call it out. Plain and simple.
Jesus abandoned His privilege for the sake of the under-privilege, and now it’s my turn.
14. When I Told Everyone How Much I Prayed:
Or the last time I fasted (which was 2004 but I’m still taking about it). Or how good this “morning’s time with the Lord” was. Classic. But Jesus was all about keeping that stuff secret. Expose your weaknesses, let your strengths speak for themselves.
15. When I Treated The Congregation Like They Were All Full-Time Pastors:
Demanding stuff from them like they were all employees of the ministry. Expecting them to drop everything for the sake of “the Kingdom” (Carlos’ kingdom really).
Never forget, the whole point is to serve, not to be served.
16. When I Forgot to Take Care of Myself:
So I ended up bitter and angry and burnt out. Then I started to blame the church. But I could have said “No” to 50% of the meetings I attended. I could have chosen to train others to lead and shine. I could have trusted Jesus to lead His people. And I could have used all my vacation days properly.
17. When I Considered Missing My Sons’ Birthday To Go On A Ministry Trip:
I did not do it. A combination of my wife’s stare and God’s wrath allowed me to see light. But I was on the edge. And that is bad enough. I should have said “NO!” without blinking. But I thought about it. A lot. #AlmostFail
18. When I Looked At Porn And Kept It To Myself.
We all have our struggles. And it’s insane to pretend. The freaking mask is too heavy! So find someone to be accountable to. Let them know what you’re struggling with. Don’t be a prisoner to darkness and shame.
Share. And be healed.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
19. When I Waited Too Long To Get Help:
Are you in pain? Are you constantly feeling alone? Do you have emotions that seem to be out of control? Talk to someone. Like right now. Don’t fight alone, because you might lose. And that would be a shame.
20. When I Told Everyone “Family Was Priority” But I Lived Like The Ministry Was:
I fell for it. Like so many others before me. And so I ask for your prayers.
My wife is my calling. My boys are my disciples. My family is the congregation.
Ohhh that feels good.
There is glory in self-awareness. And these leadership fails are the perfect opportunity for Jesus to shine in my life. Because there is more grace in Christ, than sin in me.
Now it’s your turn.
* Share this revealing list with your pastors and leaders with a note that says: “Thank you for not being like this guy! I love you, thank you for all that you do :)”