Experience can be very valuable to any church leader. On the other hand, years in ministry can be overrated.
Someone might ask at this point, “Don’t you value the experience of other church leaders? Don’t you think we can learn from those who have experienced more than we have?” Of course! I do value experience. However, one’s experience may not be as valuable as it ultimately could be.
One might have 12 years of participation in a ministry role; but if those 12 years consist of very little reflection or examination, the experience may not be as valuable as it could have been. One may simply be repeating from year to year bad habits, ineffective practices, and a poor attitude. Consequently, even though a person may have served for many years as a minister, such longtime ministry may not be that helpful to others who wish to learn more about how to function in a ministry role.
Optimize your ministry experience so that it becomes a valuable asset both to you and those who might learn from your years in ministry.
Here are some practices you might want to follow so you are maximizing the quality of your ministry:
1. Reflect on your experience. In other words, think through how you handled a particular situation. Suppose, for example, you have recently participated in lengthy discussions with your elder group. As you reflect on these discussions with them, you might realize you have been feeling frustration and even anger toward particular people within the group.
2. Evaluate your experience. How effective were you in what you said and the way you said it? How effective were you in your presentation to the group? Perhaps there was a moment in which you spoke sharply. If you continue to use that tone of voice and express anger in such a fashion, what will that ultimately do to your relationship with these people?
3. Make needed changes in your attitude, behavior, and functioning. Don’t simply repeat last week’s experience. Be intentional about making changes in your life and the way you work. In other words, aggressively keep growing, developing, and maturing.
Don’t waste the potential value of your years in ministry by neglecting to submit them to reflection, evaluation, and modification.
Now how valuable is this kind of experience? Extremely! You are a person whose experience is being tempered by wisdom, the community of believers, and Scripture. As a humble person, God can work to give you awareness and clarity about what needs to change in your own life. He will also give you power to make those needed changes.
When you come across a church leader who practices such a process, you and others may find this person to be a rich well of resources.