In my prayer book, I say this about myself, “I want to die with a grateful heart and a smile on my lips. No bitterness, anger, regrets or resentment. By your grace it shall be.” Chuck Lawless shares some ministry regrets he has.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

As I reflect on 40 years of ministry, I do have some regrets. My hope is that my sharing them today will help others not make the same mistakes.

  1. I regret I didn’t consistently seek accountability for my Christian walk and my spiritual disciplines. I fought battles by myself—and that’s not very smart. 
  2. I regret I invested little time in mentoring in my early years of ministry. No one taught me about mentoring until I heard Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism, speak in a class I was leading. I’m certain I overlooked opportunities with young men who were waiting for their pastor to help them grow in their faith.   
  3. I regret I failed to lead my church to make mission trips a priority. Our church had weekly missions education, held annual missions studies, and invited missionaries to speak – but I did not yet recognize the value of doing missions 
  4. I regret I didn’t fully recognize the importance of being a role model. I didn’t know how much others watch the pastor. Years later, I’ve realized that a church is unlikely to exceed its pastor in at least three critical areas he must model: holiness, evangelism, and prayer. 
  5. I regret I didn’t study leadership enough. With the Bible as our guide and the filter through which we read other books, we can still learn much about leadership from others who’ve led before us.  I would have been a better pastoral leader had I read more in that field in my early years.
  6. I regret I sometimes placed ministry before my wife. Never has my wife complained about serving with me in ministry.  If she were honest, however, I am certain she would admit to feeling as if she sometimes took second place in my life. 
  7. I regret I didn’t consistently set evangelism goals. I wish I had established as a pastor the goals I have set now: to pray daily for at least five non-believers, to be in intentional relationships with at least two non-believers at any given point, to speak daily to someone about God’s goodness, and to share the gospel with someone at least weekly.
  8. I regret getting comfortable with transfer growth in my church. As long as the church numbers were increasing—even if the growth came from other churches rather than from the conversion of non-believers—I didn’t think much about the source of that growth. 
  9. I regret I didn’t develop a consistent reading plan early in ministry. Had I strategized to build reading into my daily calendar forty years ago, I would be better informed today. Today, I tell students to read at least 30 minutes each day beyond their daily Bible reading. 
  10. I regret not keeping good records of baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. In fact, I’ve posted before about this deep regret. I sure wish I had an accessible record of all these events and memories today. 

What regrets in your life would you want others to know?