Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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Learning from Mistakes

  • Jim Townsley
  • Jul 11, 2010

The ministry is filled with failures, mistakes, and miscues. Though we all are pursuing success mistakes and failures are a normal part of life, especially for young men in the ministry. The greatest players in basketball do not shoot 100% and are considered a great success is they miss 50% of the time. I wish I could say I never made a mistake in the ministry, but that is far from the truth. I have made many mistakes and some of them unfortunately were huge. But, one mistake that we must never commit is doing nothing. Doing nothing is, in my opinion, the worst mistake that can be made. I like a quote of our late president Theodore Roosevelt.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

The old nature within every person privately rejoices at the shortcomings of others. We tend to quietly be encouraged to know we are not alone in failure. Everyone loves to hear stories of struggle and failure followed by success. We would be greatly depressed to think we were the only person who had experienced failure. In an effort to encourage every reader I am listing some of my greatest failures. My hope is that no one will become satisfied by failure, but encouraged to realize success is possible when we learn from our mistakes.

1. Trying to do the job alone - People applauded my efforts as I wore myself out. BIG MISTAKE!
I continue to be amazed to find that my best workers go unnoticed even though they are members of the church. I am learning to notice people and their potential. Sometimes some great leaders simply need to be prodded a little.

2. Using gimmicks to increase attendance.
The two worst days in the history of our church were our biggest promotion days. On one of these occasions I rented and amusement park and the other special day sported camel rides. I drove away some of our best members.

3. Trying to get a profession without conversion.
I had to be reminded that conversion is impossible apart from the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We must all learn to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we witness for Christ.

4. Failing to spend the necessary time to disciple new converts.
New believers need a training course in basic Bible doctrine and they especially need someone to whom they can be accountable. The great commission does not end with conversion, but also includes training to be a disciple of the Lord.

5. Failing to spend the time to train prospective leaders.
Sunday school teachers, deacons, youth workers and bus captains all need training. Training takes time and every preacher has a responsibility to give time to this important task.

6. Repeating jokes that were offensive to a visitor or member.
Ethnic jokes and jokes that poke fun of certain people may be humorous in a private setting, but seldom are they appropriate from the pulpit. We must be conscience of who we might offend when poking fun.

7. Not spending enough time alone with God.
The ministry is a busy calling and we must be careful not to just be busy about doing good things at the expense of not spending time alone with God.

8. A failure to take an extended time away from the ministry to be refreshed.
Preachers often think they are irreplaceable, but the truth is if you or I dropped dead before Sunday someone else will be in the pulpit preaching. Leaving for a week or two for vacation or just to get away will be time well spent.

9. A failure to read.
Pastors must be readers. If you fail to read, your people will know it. Every preacher should have a book fund built into the budget so that he can buy good books.

10. Failing to ask people to sacrifice.
I have always been willing to sacrifice for others, but asking others to sacrifice seems to be more difficult. But, our people need to learn to sacrifice for the Lord and we are depriving them of a blessing by not asking great things of them.