6 Sets of Contrasting Mistakes I’ve Made in Ministry

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. 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 


  1. Doing evangelism but no equipping. The result was baby believers in my congregation who never grew.
  2. Doing equipping but no evangelism. In those cases, I was acting more like a professor than as a pastor-evangelist. 


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 


  1. Sharing too little about my own struggles. I’ve been known to battle alone—which is not the best way to fight spiritual battles. 
  2. Sharing too much about my struggles. It’s a fine line between honest vulnerability and unwise disclosure (at least with the wrong persons). 


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 


  1. Leaving a church too soon. It probably wasn’t time for me to leave, but I was tired and frustrated. 
  2. Staying in a church too long. This issue proved even more problematic than leaving too soon. 

What contrasting mistakes have you made?  


  • David Frasure says:

    Investing much time and patience with a staff member who wasn’t a good fit verses letting a staff member go without investing time and patience.

  • Charles Kile says:

    Explaining to leadership of my community ministry how to detect suicide and prevent suicide. Then having a leader plan a suicide. She knew how I was going to prevent their suicide. Then got her church to shield her from my prevention. But gave me a gift to remember her by, I looked at her and said you have planned it. She simply smiled, a pistol with shot to the head in a hotel room is what she planned.

    I lost 60% of a ministry in a week due to a suicide

    • John Hubbard says:

      Dear Charles
      I am sorry you lost her to suicide. My prior Church(I was the Librarian), we had a suicide of a Church Leader. We knew he was suicidal but the the Church Did not know how to or had the guts to have the probate court Judge commit him for 7 or 15 days to prevent the suicide. He has married to a lukewarm believer who was captured by a secular man-hater and convinced her to divorce him after about 30 years of marriage. hubbard_jr@yahoo.com

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