My parents have always told me, “You never stop learning things, you just learn better ways to do them as you get older.” I can honestly say that over the past year working at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, I have learned a lot. I’ve had my share of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have felt the weight of my mistakes as a leader, as well as the immense joy of seeing unity and creativity grow in my team at the Boynton campus. As a leader I feel, more often than not, that I have learned “how not to do” a lot of things. It’s through reflecting on mistakes that the greatest knowledge is found, the greatest lessons learned, and the greatest grace experienced. Here, I share with you just three lessons I learned thus far from my shortcomings.
1. I must be still with Jesus Christ and receive His powerful love and grace, before I try to lead people.
I don’t know about you, but when my life is busy and somewhat stressful, the first thing I cut off my list of priorities is quiet time with the Lord. It never ceases to amaze me how the last thing I should ever skip out on is the first thing I forget to do. You quickly start to realize that without that precious time of receiving love and being still in the Father’s presence, your relationships with others begin to suffer. How are you supposed to pour out grace and lead with love if your heart is empty? This is foundational to the Christian walk, let alone ministry. My word of encouragement to us all is to get in the prayer closet and not leave until we have met with the Father from whom all blessings come.
2. When I fail, I need to walk in the grace and forgiveness Christ has given me instead of shame or guilt.
Another thing I have learned this past year is that as a human who is made up of the flesh, I will fail. Twenty-three years on this earth and I’m starting to catch on. Even if my intentions are good, I will mess up. The Enemy wants nothing more than to see us sin and wallow in it. He wants us to feel the weight of our guilt and be crushed by it. He knows that when this happens we become ineffective in our ministry. But the lesson God has been so gracious to keep on teaching me is that His grace is sufficient for me. He reminds me to pick myself up and try again and again and again. Romans 8:1 says, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” So let us not walk in shame or guilt any longer, but instead walk fully in the freedom Christ has set before us.
3. To become a greater leader and serve my team well, I must imitate Christ, who is the perfect servant-leader.
As a younger guy working in ministry, I have sometimes found it hard to know how to lead. Now I am not one to shy away from responsibility or commitment, but often times I have come across circumstances that I literally had no idea how to traverse. My initial response to these encounters was to do what I could in my own strength and hope for the best. And guess what? I failed. Surprise! But what the Lord has been speaking to me as of late in these situations is “Imitate Me." Jesus Christ was and is the ultimate servant-leader. He loved well, served selflessly, and led confidently and intentionally. Therefore, if I am imitating Christ, I cannot go wrong. Even though my experience may be limited, He will equip me to do the things He called me to do. But again, being a human, the odds are pretty great that my pride will get in the way sometimes and I will think to not imitate Christ and fail. But if we as leaders of our homes, families, and ministries can seek to imitate Christ above all things, I think we will see great results and bear good fruit.
I hope these lessons encourage you and remind you that you are not alone in the struggles you encounter in ministry. We serve a God who is patient with us and faithful to pour out wisdom on us liberally and without reproach. He’s got it!