Lent is the season for giving up things, so here's a list of some that I've found in the most recent season of my life.
1. "Fix It" mindset
I love to solve problems. It's very satisfying to find and implement a solution that works and complete something. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for people and organizations like the church. Trust me. I tried. If there's one thing I wish I could go back and change is that I too often approached my church's decline as if I had the answer and if people would just do what I say, then we'd be good. It often to criticizing the church, when what I really wanted to do was build up the church. I also found that I criticized myself a lot, and was extra sensitive (paranoid) when others criticized me. The "Fix It" mindset created a whole big mess. There's no silver bullet fix to your church's problems. (And saying "we just need Jesus" is an over-spiritualized copout.)
1b. Your Agenda
When a Bishop ordains a person as clergy, the Bishop uses the phrase "Take thou authority." Some might see that as a license to do whatever you want. Most temper that, but we still bring our own agenda to the table. Surrendering that agenda is an important process to go through. Kind of like Abraham going up to sacrifice his son Isaac. It may turn out that you get to keep some of what you want to do, but surrendering to God's agenda for your church is more important. Do that soul work of surrender and let go. God has something amazing in mind...beyond your wildest dreams.
If I had it to do again, I'd use a "coach approach" to ministry. I'd help people and the church improve themselves. That's when change can really happen because people are motivated and inspired to do it themselves; they're learning and developing themselves. It's much more grace-filled and healthy.
Trying to keep up with the latest and greatest church and cultural trends will just run you ragged. I pretty much found this out the hard way. Mainly what I mean is that most of them are not suitable for my current context; we just weren't there yet. Many could be contextualized for my context, but see #1. Even if a trend matches the culture, the church may not be there yet. I remember from being a Youth Pastor that trying to be "cool" works for a while, but eventually people figure it out and move on if there's not something deep to engage in. A better goal would be to discover your strengths and major in those. Discover what's most important to you and your church that's worth it no matter who shows up, and do it the best you can.
Again, this is connected to #1, but let's get personal and real. Often times, we do things and decide things a certain way just to feel good about ourselves. And it gets addicting. I get it, I really do. Pleasing people feels good and its a boost when you're down. Chasing after your ambitions is fun. Ambition isn't all bad, but selfish ambition is. I'm beginning to think that I pursued a lot of ministry in order to store up treasures on earth, as in the get the credit. In fact, I think in a lot of ways the institutional system is set up to reward that sort of thing and make you more hungry for it. Some may think the ends justifies the means. Ok, maybe. But at what cost? What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and forfeit one's soul?
Instead, I've learned to care for my soul first. Then I'm more apt to not care about getting the credit and inflating my ego. I have all the affection I need from God. He can have all the credit. It's called glory.
What do You Think?
So there's my list of things to give up. I guess it's closer to 4 than 3. What do you think? Does this spark any ideas in your mind?
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.