As I have the privilege of traveling, presenting leadership seminars, I always allocate time for Q&A.
People ask lots of different questions about life, marriage, pacing, parenting, building teams, etc. Once in a while somebody will ask about regrets I have or mistakes I’ve made.
I can remember an older seasoned leader who was asked what he would do differently if he could live his life over again. I have never been asked that per se, but thought I would answer that today.
Knowing what I now know, having the experience I now have, and gaining some wisdom after 82 years (I will be 82 next month) of life and 53 years of vocational Christian ministry, I would do some things differently.
“A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Nobody lives long enough to make them all himself.” -John Maxwell.
Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and journey.
Here are six things I would do differently. I learned how to do them later, but would put them into practice much earlier if I had to do it over again.
1. KEEP A CLOSER EYE ON WHO MY CHILDREN’S BEST FRIENDS ARE –
We learned that in the early years Susan and I were the main people forming our kids values; but as they got older, their peers took over that role. I made a mistake in not playing a more active role in who their friends became when they hit the volatile teen-age years.
2. BE LESS CONCERNED WITH WHAT PEOPLE THINK AND MORE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT GOD THINKS –
A lot of decisions I made in the early years of my ministry were fear-based, not faith-based. I was more concerned with pleasing people, than pleasing God–giving more thought to what others desired rather than what God desired.
3. HAVE MORE HONEST & CONFRONTATIONAL CONVERSATIONS WHEN NEEDED –
My fear of what others would think of me led me to shy away from difficult conversations and difficult decisions. I hoped that time would resolve some of the serious issues, but that generally did not turn out to be the case. Matters got worse, not better, with neglect.
4. IDENTIFY MY GIFTING, PASSION, AND VISION, AND STICK WITH THEM –
I didn’t really start to think about my gifting, calling, passion and vision until I was in my early 40’s. I wasted a lot of years just drifting in ministry without a lot of conviction and spiritual authority. That’s why I am highly motivated to help leaders in their 20’s and 30’s start the process of discovering their God-given gifts and calling.
5. TRAVEL AT A CHALLENGING AND STRETCHING, BUT NOT INSANE AND UNSUSTAINABLE PACE –
I almost fried myself before I was 30. A trip to the doctor was my wakeup call. It still took me a few more years to start to get a handle on my capacity and to recognize the danger signals when I was overreaching and over committing (oftentimes for the wrong reasons). I had one speed and that was fast-forward. The stress of biting off more than I should have (because of fear of others opinions and a good dose of insecurity) almost did me in.
6. ALWAYS THINK OF DOING THINGS THROUGH TEAMS AND NOT BY MYSELF –
A misplaced ego led me to do most things by myself and on my own, with little real dependence on God, and not allowing others to share in what he was leading me to do. Forming a team was not on my radar in the early years. I gave people jobs but never really delegated authority or built great teams.
Now when I’m asked to take responsibility for something, my first thought is who can I ask to join me, which allows me to go at a more reasonable pace and also allows others to use their gifts for God’s kingdom. It’s a win/win!
Why not share a comment below as to what some of your mistakes have been thus far on your journey and what you would do differently!