I’ve made a lot of mistakes in 40+ years of ministry—some that almost seem contradictory to others. Here are some of those mistakes. I hope my honesty will encourage you if you’ve made the same mistakes.
- Leading too quickly toward change when the church wasn’t ready. I saw the need for change but failed to help them see it before I acted on it.
- Moving too slowly in change when the church was waiting. Other leaders knew what we needed to do, but I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger. They were right.
- Spending too little time in sermon preparation. Sometimes, it was just easier to study a little, “wing it,” and hope the congregation wouldn’t know.
- Spending too much time in sermon preparation. This hasn’t happened often, but I’ve sometimes prepared like I was doing a PhD oral defense and failed to do ministry the rest of the week.
- Doing evangelism but no equipping. The result was baby believers in my congregation who never grew.
- Doing equipping but no evangelism. In those cases, I was acting more like a professor than as a pastor-evangelist.
- Seeking to avoid conflict at all costs. I don’t like conflict, and I’ve sometimes tried to be a peacemaker while avoiding speaking needed truth.
- Inviting conflict as the “crusader for truth.” That happened much more during my early days of ministry, when I tried to show the backbone of a young preacher in his 20’s by proving everybody else wrong.
- Sharing too little about my own struggles. I’ve been known to battle alone—which is not the best way to fight spiritual battles.
- Sharing too much about my struggles. It’s a fine line between honest vulnerability and unwise disclosure (at least with the wrong persons).
- Telling my wife more than she wanted to know. I hadn’t yet learned her preferences at the time, but I’ve learned since then.
- Not keeping my wife informed. She may not want to know everything I know, but she definitely wants to know prayer concerns, scheduled events, etc.
- Leaving a church too soon. It probably wasn’t time for me to leave, but I was tired and frustrated.
- Staying in a church too long. This issue proved even more problematic than leaving too soon.
What contrasting mistakes have you made?