Top Post for Pastors in 2014: 28 Things I Wish I Had Done Better in My 28 Years Here

Looking back, my most-viewed post for pastors this year was 28 Things I Wish I Had Done Better in My 28 Years Here. As we reflect on the year and prepare for the new year, I’d like to share it with you again today, as these things still hold true.

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Twenty-eight years ago last week, my family and I responded to God’s calling to accept the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas. With the opening of our third campus four years ago, we changed our church’s name to Cross Church. Today, our 144 year-old church offers ten worship services each week through our five campuses.

I know that anything good that has happened here has not happened because of me. Through the years, I have done more things wrong than right. I hope you can avoid some of the many mistakes I have made in my twenty-eight years serving the same church. I thought I might list some of them – for my benefit as much as anyone else’s. While I list them numerically, it is only for reference, not in any sequence of importance.

Let me get started…

1. I wish I had walked slower through the crowd.

2. I wish I had enjoyed the special moments longer.

3. I wish I had celebrated the victories in a greater way.

4. I wish I had stayed out of the ditches of leadership in the journey.

5. I wish I had traveled more extensively in ministry and mission endeavors.

6. I wish I had begun an intentional strategy to invest in pastors and spiritual leaders much earlier, including future pastors and leaders.

7. I wish I had never bought into many of the trends in ministry that have proven ineffective again and again.

8. I wish I had not believed some of the things I read that led to me altering various strategies of ministry.

9. I wish I had taken longer to hire some people.

10. I wish I had not listened to many of my staff members.

11. I wish I had listened to some staff members more.

12. I wish I had encouraged some staff members who were just not right for the job or not right for our church to move on to other ministries quicker.

13. I wish I had dealt with more staff and church problems head-on through the years.

14. I wish I had permitted more people into my life personally and my journey as a leader.

15. I wish I had discovered more ways to use lesser buildings to do more for the Kingdom of God.

16. I wish I had been more Kingdom-focused through the years, regardless of what my peers thought or said about it.

17. I wish I had never believed all the bad things people said about me.

18. I wish I had never believed all the good things people said about me.

19. I wish I had never swayed from leading my congregation, denomination, or anyone else to fulfill the Great Commission.

20. I wish I had better discernment through the years as a Christian leader and Pastor.

21. I wish I had taken care of myself more effectively through the years physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally.

22. I wish I had enjoyed more replenishing relationships through the years.

23. I wish I had walked away quicker from some relationships that continually depleted me personally and professionally.

24. I wish I had seen myself as a “lifer” in Northwest Arkansas early on, rather than a probable “transient” here.

25. I wish I had led my church to be much more generous toward others through the years than we have.

26. I wish I had slowed down more through the years and enjoyed the journey a little more.

27. I wish I had pursued leaders who were greater than I would ever be, endlessly asking them to pour their lives into my life and leadership intentionally.

28. I wish I had lived with such wisdom and discernment that I would have disappointed fewer people through the years.

I will stop with listing only twenty-eight things I wish I had done better through my twenty-eight years here in the same church. Trust me, I know this list is really endless!

Where do I go from here?

From here, I realize that as long as I have life within me and leadership entrusted to me, I can go forward toward the future. I can learn from my past failures and move forward, committed to greater leadership in and through my life. At this point, I cannot go back, but only forward!

Therefore, forward is my destination! Whether I stay here another few years, another twenty-eight years, or even longer, I want to be the man of God He wants me to be and lead with the highest level of trust extended to me from the people of God.

Pastors and church leaders, learn from my mistakes and do not create your own. I am committed to do so and I hope you will join me. I have so far to go, but I am going forward.

Yours for the Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd

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Facing Discouragement? We Need Protection in God’s Encouragement

Discouragement is one of the enemy’s most effective tools against the people of God. How many small group leaders begin with great dreams of seeing spiritual growth in their group members only to become discouraged and quit? How many pastors assume leadership in a new church only to run afoul of a power structure, become discouraged, and lose heart?

How many men and women enter the world of business with big goals and high expectations but end up experiencing discouragement? How many people enter marriage in love with one another and soon become discouraged with each other and marriage itself?

Let God Encourage You

Writers in the Psalms knew discouragement well. They also knew God was faithful to provide encouragement. Consider Psalm 42:1-2, 6 as it says, “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar” Have you ever been that hungry for God while feeling detached from Him? You are in good company! Chase after God when you face discouragement.

God Gives You Hope

But the psalmist didn’t stop there. He expressed great hope in God’s encouragement. “The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night–a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8). Then he asks and answers his own questions: “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).1, 2

Philip Nation writes, “We can learn to be thankful even for the difficulties of life because even those difficulties remind us of God’s presence.”3 Even the best known of Psalms, the 23rd, reminds us of God’s presence in the valley of the shadow of death.

Ways God Encourages Us

Encouragement from God can come in many forms. Sometimes it is a timely verse of Scripture during our quiet time. Sometimes it is the overwhelming sense of His presence while we are in prayer. At other times it is a word from a friend spoken at the right time. At yet other times it is a refreshing spirit of worship. God is not bound in His ability to encourage us, nor stingy in His willingness to do so.

When Discouragement Overwhelmed Me

There have been several times when discouragement has overwhelmed me. I could account several times through the years when I believed with a deep conviction that God wanted us to do something in our church. Yet, it did not happen. Discouragement overwhelmed me.

There have been times when laypeople or various members of our staff team have left our fellowship. It has been especially discouraging when it was not done in the highest manner biblically and spiritually. In some of those moments, discouragement overwhelmed me.

There have also been moments when I thought God was going to do something with me. Yet, it was not His plan. Discouragement overwhelmed me. These have been the moments I have rebounded from the quickest because I have a consuming theological belief in the sovereignty of God for my life.

God is Always Faithful, Abounding in Grace

Through each of these personal moments of discouragement, God has always been faithful to me. He has lifted up my life with an encouragement and confidence in Him that far surpasses any level of encouragement.

I leave you with this confidence today because of God’s faithfulness and grace in my life:

“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.”4

And all of God’s people said…. Amen!

Yours for the Great Commission, 

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
President, Southern Baptist Convention

References

1- All scripture, Holman Christian Standard Version.
2- “Depressed” in this context refers to discouragement, not deep or clinical depression. Clinical depression has roots not yet fully known. I believe God can work through the medical community in cases like these.
3- Bible Studies for Life, Storm Shelter, Philip Nation
4-Brennan Manning, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/brennanman531767.html

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