I can’t believe it…I am 35. In March I had another birthday and like every year got to turn another year older. As I turn 35 I have also been serving as a pastor (children, youth, family pastor) for 12 years (15 if you include three years volunteering, those were great years!). Turning 35 is a big deal and it drove me to be a little introspective over the last few weeks. I am working through what is next for me as a pastor, a dad, and a husband. I am also processing the journey behind me and trying to extract as many life lessons as possible. As I look back there are a few things I wish leaders had of told me. In my time in ministry I have had to learn how to serve in the established church and rethink what church could be all at the same time. In the middle of this process here are a few things no one every told me…
- You are going to move and serve in several church environments >> I was 23 when I took my first full time position. Guess what…I have moved several times over the years and served at several different churches and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. For some reason as I moved from ministry to ministry I felt guilty. Now at age 35 I realize that God was shaping me into the leader I am today. I could not stay at any of the churches I was at because God was shaping my heart as a leader. No leader ever told me that was just part of the process of growth.
- Education pays off down the road >> As I was getting my education I was miserable. No leader ever told me that was NORMAL. Now on this side of things I see how important my education was. There is not a week that goes by that as I study or think that my education is not critical. So glad I finished. It is more than just a piece of paper, it is a launching pad for personal growth down the road.
- Pastor / Staff relationships always have tension >> After 12 years in church staff I have served with some amazing pastors. Guess what…there is always tension. I now serve with one of my best friends (Chad Rowland) and a mentor (Ron Edmondson) and their role as pastor still brings occasional tension. I wish someone had of told me to just be ready for it. Your pastor is going to make choices you don’t dig so you better learn how to let go and get on board.
- Relationships are the heart of leadership >> When we are young we want the title and the responsibility. No one every told me that the title just gives an opportunity to build relationships of significance. Leadership is relational. Spending time building relationships, listening to others, and being available is priceless for young leaders.
- Slow down and celebrate what God is doing >> As young leaders we feel so responsible to be change agents that we often move to the next thing without celebrating what God is doing. It is so important to slow down every once in a while and simply give thanks. Conferences, vacation time, and sabbath days are critical times for young leaders to slow down and process. Use them and do not feel guilty for setting aside the time.