New Year: Pastors Reflect on Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned in 2011

There is a lot to be learned from our mistakes, although not everyone is willing to share their failures with others. Several pastors, however, have decided to take a look back at the mistakes they made in 2011 and share what they learned with The Christian Post.

Pastor Charles Hill says he could go “on and on” about the mistakes he made in ministry in 2011, but offered CP just a few specifics.

“I tend to use my best gift (communication/leading) to be my worst enemy at times,” he said in an email on Friday. “I communicate too quickly at times and shoot from the hip with leadership decisions (though my gut/spirit is usually correct). People don't like that as much as I learning to slow down the process at times is getting better for me, but something I am still growing at.”

Hill's Facebook page says he is “Technically Unemployed,” but that doesn't mean his resume isn't impressive.

He is the founder of New Hope Community Church in Loudenville, Ohio, a multisite church which even has one location in China. He is also the creator of the Sticks Conferences, which are regular gatherings of small town pastors who want to learn how to lead in a big way.

He recently left One Community Church, a church plant he started in South Jordan, Utah, that witnesses to the predominantly Mormon community there, after realizing he had lost his passion for ministering there and seeing both he and his wife struggle with depression. He and his family moved to Central Ohio.

On a personal level, Hill says he occasionally treated his family poorly in 2011, “chalking it up to 'stress' and transition and trying to act like that is a good reason or reasonable excuse to treat those I love the most in a poor way.”

But of all the things he learned in the last year, Hill says the greatest lesson was this: “That God does not want us to lay down our lives for his church. Only He can do that, and He did that quite well.”

“We are called to LOVE GOD and LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR, and a church will flow out of that. You cannot just have a passion for HIS CHURCH and expect love for people to come from is the other way around,” he said. “That is why we moved to the craziest of places after being offered some pretty nice jobs to interview for...because we have a deep love for the people of Ohio and out of that will flow His church and His kingdom.”

Hill said admitting mistakes is difficult for pastors because they are “human and prideful.”

But Dean Curry, lead pastor of Life Center in Tacoma, Wash., jokingly said that so many of his mistakes are committed publicly that “admitting them seems redundant.”

In his ministry, Curry “made the mistake of moving too fast this year” and noted that “being 'slow to hire' really helps.” In his personal life, he said he should have spent more time with his friends.

Curry will take two-days in January to pray and fast, as a sort of beginning-of-the-year evaluation of both himself and his ministry.

The most important thing he learned this past year, Curry said, is that he should “wait on the Lord.”

“I now spend almost 60 percent of my time just listening,” he said. “It's changed me.”

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The Purpose Driven Life, opened up to pastors in a webcast on Wednesday. Although he did not share many mistakes he made in 2011, he did share a number of leadership lessons that he learned, some of which are listed below.

Rick Warren's 2011 Leadership Lessons:

  • Life is too short to act on every good idea. You have to focus on God's ideas...Often I'll get a dozen good ideas by lunch, but that doesn't mean we're going to act on all of them.
  • The number one factor that keeps staff motivated is not money, and it is not recognition, and it is not goals, and it is not even's progress. If people see progress in their work, then they're committed to it.
  • Sometimes inaction is the wisest action. Don't be in a hurry to make a decision...Hurry is the death of prayer.
  • Godly leaders focus on correcting their own faults, but losers focus on correcting others faults.
  • Strong sermons only have one big point. Weak sermons are a bunch of small points tied together.
  • God often uses opposition to open doors for you.
  • Correct privately, commend publicly.
  • It's far more important for a leader to know the right questions, and who to ask, than to know all the answers.

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