Five Lessons Learned in the First Five Years

In March, I celebrated five years of being the Lead Pastor at Crosspoint.  In reflecting on those five years, here are five things I have learned or been reminded of.  I could give you a list of 50 things, but that makes for a long post.  Maybe another day.  Here are five.

God is Faithful.

I have seen God prove faithful over and over again, and not just in the past five years.  And many of you have as well.  He has provided the volunteers, finances, property, gifts, abilities, and resources over and over.  He has taught me to wait, and He has also taught that in the waiting it may not appear that He is at work, but He most definitely is.  Our God is faithful and will work despite us oftentimes.  Thankfully His ability and power is not limited by our own.  There have been messages where I have preached and thought I barely got the bat on the ball, but then I hear of how the Holy Spirit took that and is encouraging or challenging someone.  Those moments are great reminders that it never has been, nor will it ever be about Dave.  Instead it will always be about Jesus who is forever faithful, always at work, and specializes in using broken jars of clay.

Ministry is Brutalful

Yes, ‘brutalful’ is a made up word, but I like it.  I heard it years ago from a speaker, and it has always stuck with me.  It is the combination of brutal and beautiful.  There are experiences, aspects and situations in ministry that are brutal.  In the past five years, I’ve had a close friend pass away.  I’ve had friends make initial steps toward Jesus only to turn and walk away.  I’ve had friends experience a lot of hurt in their marriage and the entangling consequences of sin.  I’ve been on the receiving end of gossip and my character and beliefs have been mischaracterized.  All of that is brutal, and I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.  Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, and it isn’t just pastors who have trouble.  Thankfully Jesus said that He has overcome this world.  Ministry is also beautiful.  Seeing someone’s life transformed by Jesus just never gets old.  To see friends become aware of the entanglement of sin, but then to see His grace abound and restoration occur will bring tears to your eyes.  Watching dads baptize their children, being a part of weddings, and meeting new people who are finding a church home at Crosspoint is beautiful.  Hearing how God is saving, reconciling, forgiving, and making new is humbling and beautiful.  God’s grace is sufficient in both the valleys and on top of the mountains.  And I’m thankful.

Relationships are Vital

Jesus gave us the example and modeled it for us.  The New Testament church followed that example.  Jesus did ministry in the context of relationships.  He was not a lone ranger.  I’m so thankful for the friends we have in the family of God.  For the community that we serve within.  I’m grateful for the elders I serve with, the staff that is at Crosspoint, and the incredibly faithful volunteers we have.  It is truly a joy to serve in a church where so many own their parts and what God has called them to.  Where so many are not just partners in ministry, but friends.  It lightens the load.  It reflects 1 Corinthians 12.  It glorifies God.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Identity in Christ is Huge

It is easy, not just in ministry, but in life to allow our identity to get caught up or defined by things other than Christ.  Whether it be our children, past, sin, work, money, accomplishments, etc.  It is easy as a pastor to allow the ministry to define you.  But when you allow anything or anyone other than Jesus to become your identity, then it moves into idolatry.  Knowing who I am in Jesus is huge.  Not just for me, but for you as well.  So when the day went great, you know that you are still a forgiven, loved, saved, and adopted child of God.  And when the day was rough and it didn’t go as planned, you know that you are still a forgiven, loved, saved, and adopted child of God.

I Love My Wife and Children

This might seem like the standard trite thing to say at the end, but it really is the truth, and I’ve only been reminded of it over the past five years.  So many pastors sacrifice their family on the ‘altar of ministry.’  And I get it.  I get how easy it can be to slip into that mentality.  I fight the tension all the time of balancing the demands of work and family.  And I don’t always get it right.  But there are two roles I can’t delegate away, and those are husband and father.  I treasure that God has called me to those roles, and then equips me with His grace and power to accomplish them.  My wife and children bring me such joy, and teach me so much.  They are an evidence of God’s grace in my life, and I’m so thankful.

If you were to reflect on the past five years, what are things you have learned?