Perry Noble has been posting an article on his blog entitled, "Five Mistakes I Made as a Young Leader." It's all good stuff so far, but #'s 3 through 5 even more so. I've learned each of these lessons (I think) the hardhardhard way:
#3 – I Spoke In Absolutes, Saying That We Would Always Do Certain Things and “Never” Do Other Things.Wow. Just wow.
If you want to make God laugh…tell Him about all of the things you will and won’t do…and watch over time how He will cause you to eat your words!
When we first began NewSpring I said that I would never teach on giving…because it made people uncomfortable. Until I actually begin digging into Scripture and realized that Jesus talked about giving more than He did prayer…or faith…or heaven…or hell! (And I also realized the only people who were really uncomfortable were the ones who were not giving!)
When we first began I said we would not do a public invitation because they didn’t work anymore. I had a place in the program that people could check if they wanted to know more information about Christ…and asked people to fill that out and that someone would follow up with them. BUT…THEN GOD pressed in on me DURING a service to offer an invitation. I tried to explain to Him we didn’t do that…then He explained to me that it wasn’t my church! So…I obeyed (relunctantly) and people responded!!!
THEN I began to declare that we would ALWAYS do a public invitation…which, once again, was a phrase I would have to eat. I
I could go on and on with this one…the thing I would warn leaders about is this…be VERY careful when making absolute statements…they probably will come back to bite you.
(And…for the record…we do an invitation when HE leads us to…which is often!!)
#4 – I Had The “Not Us” Mentality.
I heard a statistic when we planted NewSpring Church that within two years that 50% of the people who started the church would be gone.
When I heard that I said, “not us…we’re different…we’re commited…we’re going to be the exception.”
Uh…we weren’t! In fact, it didn’t take me two years to lose about 50% of the core team…it took about two months!!! The lessons I learned in those days were hard…but real…
* You will lose people!
* Whenever you call for sacrifice…you will lose people! (See John 6)
* Whenever the church grows you will lose people!
* Whenever the church makes a major move you will lose people!
* Whenever things seem to be going well you will lose people.
I hate it…but it’s true!!! There isn’t a ministry on the planet that hasn’t had to deal with the painful reality that people leave…even when you feel like you are being completely obedient to God and doing what He says!!! (I actually heard someone say once, “If people aren’t leaving then you are not leading!” That statement is painfully true!)
#5 – I Thought I Could Control What People Thought About Me!
I remember the first time I read something negative about me on the internet. It literally destroyed me…seriously, it was like someone took a knife and jabbed it into my soul!!! I read it about four or five times…and for the next several days I hyper focused on that particular website and had this thought, “If this person and I could only meet and chat I think I could change his mind.”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that no matter what I did…no matter how many conversations I had…no matter how many olive branches I extended…that there were going to be people who hated me, slandered me and despised me…and there was literally nothing I could do about it.
Church leader…you CANNOT control what people think about you…and you can’t worry about it either. Jesus had a group of people who HATED Him and followed Him everywhere He went, pointing out His “faults,” yet He stayed true to the VISION His Father placed inside of Him and didn’t engage in trying to change their minds about Him.
If you want to silence your critics then you must…
* Keep your eyes on Jesus (Craig Groeschel says that becoming obsessed with what people think about me is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about me.) Let HIM, not “them” define you!
* Live a life of integrity!! (I Peter 2:15)
The rest is in God’s hands!!! You cannot shape the opinions of others…you can only be true to who God called you to be!!!