Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Things I’d Do Differently

As a lot of you know, I’m 55.

That means I have 10-12 years left of full-time ministry.

(Ironically, I confessed to someone recently that ten years AGO I had befriended a guy who is a corporate speech coach, and somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that I should move away from church work and into that field.  Then God intervened.)

But back to being 55 with over 27 years of full-time ministry — nine at Mt. Carmel & Midway in Monroe, NC and then the last 18 here at Good Shepherd.

What would I do differently if I could?  Maybe more to the point, what would I do differently since I CAN?  I do have time left, after all.

Here are five:

1.Devote more time to developing people, processes, and a congregational atmosphere. I’ve always been better at “pastoring people” than at “growing leaders”; if I had to do it all over again, I would strike a better balance.

2.Understand my “need to be needed” as the subtle narcissism that it isA lot of us get into ministry because we like to be there for people in the most vulnerable moments of their lives.  And a lot of us like the affirmation we receive because of that ministry of presence.  Yet it is a very thin line between representative ministry and co-dependency … and I suspect I’ve crossed it a time or two.

3.Choose team over talent in hiring. Wow Factor Guy or Girl seldom builds staff chemistry in the same way as does the person who wants to work with you because they love the mission of the church first, the team second, their own ministry third.

4.Have hard conversations earlier and speak assertively but not aggressively when you have them. That’s one class they sure didn’t teach in seminary.  As a chronic avoider, it’s one I could have used.

5.Don’t personalize what is not meant personally.  Years ago, someone implored me via email that a certain situation had nothing to do with me.  I realized in an instant:  “email writer knows me better than I know myself.”  In ministry it is all too easy to take personal credit for the success and to feel personal blame for the failures.  In the same way, it is easy to interpret people’s misdirected anger as genuinely personal attack.  I think I’ll spend a good chunk of the next dozen years distancing myself from my natural tendency to make it all about me.


Comments ( 2 )

  • Kathy says:

    I am also 55, single, and wondering what God has planned for me next. I too work with people in a team atmosphere, help people in their most desperate times in their life and I do get to close to situations that I know I can not change, but I am there to support.
    Life in a children’s hospital working with desperate families and children, looking for someone to tell them it is going to be ok. But sometimes I feel that I can no longer help. I am just an employee, I punch a time clock and go home. God has me there to be a messenger. I share Christ’s love when I see an open heart. I pray, when no one is looking. I cry in the bathroom to hide my sadness. But I always have on a smile, no matter what I feel like. I have learned not to expect the worst! and to accept that God has a plan for me. I will continue to support, pray and cry for my patients and families. No matter what!

  • Barbara Wingate says:

    I am now 70! Not in any ministry by title as I have retired due to health concerns but the Bible says nothing about retirement. So…I keep asking myself and the Lord what do I do now? I think I am hearing to concentrate on prayer and intercession so I pray for you daily to have the mind of Christ with His vision for Good Shepherd and to give you His relevant message for His church today!,, Just as He has been doing over all these years! What a blessing you are to so many. Thank you for sharing your struggles as an imperfect human so we can relate to you so well!!!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *