30 years of pastoring have taught me this


In 1989 I graduated seminary and took a position as Associate Pastor at a church plant.  30 years later I can say I’ve learned a few things.  They include:

  1. Following Jesus is a lifelong lesson in humility.
  2. It’s good to let Scripture and the Holy Spirit review and revise my most deeply held beliefs.
  3. Listening to people who disagree with you is the only way to grow.
  4. Following Jesus is the best way to avoid getting lost.
  5. God never fails to show up on time. Not my time, but his time.
  6. Ministry is messy, because it involves people, and we’ve all got messed up lives. Some of us are better at hiding the mess, but it’s there.
  7. Everybody avoids conflict. If they don’t, there’s something seriously wrong with them.  Conflict is hard, painful, and seldom produces the results you hope for.
  8. Jesus is better than you imagined. (Thank you Jonathan Merritt)
  9. Being right is not the most important thing in life.
  10. Everyone has a story that involves pain; until they share it you don’t really know them.
  11. We often expect superhuman qualities from our leaders, then wonder why they fail.
  12. It’s easy to overestimate our abilities, but impossible to overestimate God’s.
  13. Everybody wants to be fruitful, but nobody wants to be pruned.
  14. Jesus is the most misunderstood person in our culture.
  15. We believe many things about ourselves and our world that simply aren’t true.

There are multiple stories behind each of these.  I’ve shared some over the years. Others are still too raw.  This is not a final list. Stay tuned for more, and write your comments below.

-Pastor Mark

Posted on September 27, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Wow. This is very powerful. Thank you for sharing this and congratulations on 30 years. I wonder what percentage of Evangelical pastors make it to 30 years? You must be in the 1% club by now.

  2. Wow! Thank you for sharing.

  3. All very true. A big ‘amen’ on #6!

  4. All really good words, Mark. You’ve grown so much over the years, and this list reflects the wisdom that always surprises (and blesses) me for someone as young as you (hey, you’re a lot younger than ME!). Thanks for holding on and for keeping on.

  5. I was attending your church last year and absolutely loved every sermon. You are a wonderful pastor. I wish I were still living up there!

  6. I like your insights Mark. I know that I lean into number 7 more than I should but I also know that I am logically askew. ; )

  7. colette releford

    Thanks for sharing. Great lessons. 10 an 13 resonate the most with me. The last year has shown me how important it is not to just lean in more in my relationships but be open with my pain and allow space to hear it in others aa well.

  8. Mark: Great list of lessons learned and you have wisdom beyond your years. I grow with your every sermon – I always walk away with a few more items on my gotta do list. I had a “younger person” translate the “Love is” Bible verse and I can now say – You are Woke and my G.O.T.A. pastor.

  9. I love that you shared this list.
    #3 is truly an epidemic and sadly causing deep divisions. Is this repairable on a wide scale?

    I’d love for you to unpack #15

    Like #10 and your comment about sharing stories that are too raw, I think that would make for a powerful series that would help a lot of people in a profound way.

  10. Mark,
    Love reading and learning from the life lessons of people who have taken risks, faced challenges and had setbacks, and then found ways to overcome them achieving success. Reading these I wanted more details- Clicked on a few to see if there was a link. Book deal? 🙂

    Life is a continuous learning process. Looking forward to seeing your 40 years lessons.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow! Your list didn’t just slip from your pen (or keyboard). Thanks for taking time to build it – and then to share it with us. Which took more of your time, may I ask, condensing the list, or building it? Either way I would benefit if more of the items were true in my life. Best wishes…

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