A pastor in the second half of his ministry looked back on his past and said that he had some real regrets.
"What kind?" I asked.
“The kind that comes with missed opportunities and just plain old miss steps. Not saying what needed to be said. Not doing what needed to be done. Just not always doing the right thing.”
I appreciated his honesty. That takes courage. The opposite is rather commonplace: Living in denial about not doing the right thing whether it is speaking to someone or saying something publicly that needs to be said, resisting conforming to the pressure to people please or a thousand other things. Then denial leads to excuses, excuses about procrastination, lack of motivation, lack of courage or excuses for just plain fear.
“Good for you!”
“Yes, good for you! Now you can repent and receive God’s gift of forgiveness for those missed opportunities to do the right thing and going forward, live into the future with greater intentionality and purpose.”
“Thanks. You know I’ve been beating myself up about it but you’re right. This is something that God wants to forgive, even a pastor like me. That brings me relief from my regret. But now I have another kind of anxiety in me as well. How do I know that I won’t blow it the next time?”
“You might! But how can you position yourself to do the right thing the next time?”
“First of all, I need to remember that my esteem and my identity are in Christ, not in my ministry.”
“Well said. So how is that going to change your behavior going forward?”
“I’m not going to be as afraid to say the thing that needs to be said or do what needs to be done. It will give me a solid foundation that God loves me and I can stand up for what He would want in this church. I can be more calm in the midst of pressures to do it all and be a pastor who enables this congregation to be turned in on itself instead of bing a pastor who makes disciples who make disciples.”
“So what are you actually going to do now?”
“First I’m going to calmly speak to my leaders about our priorities as a church in our Jerusalem and Judea. Then I am going to model some small behavioral changes by taking some individuals with me when I make hospital and evangelism calls. That way we can debrief what happened as we drive home and hopefully encourage their growth in following Jesus.”
“That sounds brilliant! Being clear not only about who you are but what you will do. And what I appreciated so much was that the big picture is going to be talked about all the while that you quietly bring others into a mentoring relationship – knowing it is not an issue about permission. You already have permission as you are called to ‘equip the saints’. So what could get in the way?”
“I could get afraid of what they will think of me or say about me behind my back. I might begin to think it would just be easier to do it myself.”
“One year from now will you regret it if you don’t do these things?”
(Through laughter) “Yes. I can’t keep going it the same way I have been. By God’s grace I am forgiven and also by God’s grace I can live into some simple but significant new behaviors. For the sake of His kingdom.”
"Good for you! So when will you speak to your leaders and how many people will you contact?"
To be continued...
- What do you regret in your ministry? Or what may you regret in the future?
- Have you spoken to someone about this who can speak to you God’s Word of law and Gospel absolution?
- What will you intentionally do now? How will you be prepared for what may throw you off course?
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