I recently posted on some of my biggest mistakes in ministry, and promised I would follow up with what helped me overcome some of my mistakes.
There are two ways to describe what happened: as a story, and as a summary
Story – I gradually became discouraged by the shallowness of my own ministry. I was good at critiquing but had to move beyond being negative and work on being a lot more constructive.
Around this time, I began a D.Min. in preaching with Haddon Robinson at Gordon-Conwell. This helped in a lot of ways: it helped my preaching, it exposed me to good friends and role models, and it stimulated my thinking. I really believe in the idea of being a scholarly or thinking practitioner of ministry, and this program fit the bill. My work on theocentric preaching helped sharpen my thinking on some of the issues I’d been working through.
At the same time, I began to learn everything I could from Tim Keller. His talk at the 2006 Desiring God Conference got me going. I devoured his Preaching to the Heart lectures from Gordon-Conwell, and began to listen to his weekly sermons.
One more change: When my father died, the way my family processed things led me to confront the way that I tend to handle things on my own without leaning on other people. I had to learn to work through my issues in community, which led to some pretty big changes in the way I lead at Richview. At the same time, the leadership culture at Richview became a lot healthier, which made leading in community possible.
Summary – I experienced a number of positive changes:
- I was better equipped to preach and to take preaching seriously;
- I began to develop an appetite to dig a bit deeper and do more thinking and serious reading;
- I learned from Tim Keller and others about the power of a Gospel-centered ministry;
- My leadership style shifted, and I became more open about my struggles.
These were all very positive changes, and I don’t know how much longer I would have lasted without them.
Still a long way to go – but I wouldn’t go back. I’m thankful that God worked to save me from how things could have developed.