I’m not sure about the phenomenon of how a global pandemic can make someone nostalgic, but it’s happened to me the last few days.
In November of 1974, I began my first ministry as a part-time youth minister at the First Christian Church of Owasso, Oklahoma. In June of 1977, I walked across the platform of the chapel of Ozark Bible College to receive my diploma. I was graduating, getting ready to marry my wife, Janis, move into our first home and begin my first full-time ministry.
Eight years later, we were living in Port Charlotte, Florida, and I had the privilege of being the Pastor of the First Christian Church. It was May of 1985 when I wrote down some of the lessons I had learned in those first few years of ministry.
I want to share that list with you now with the perspective of another 35 years added to it. And one more thing, as hard as it is to believe, this month I’ll turn 65.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED IN ALL THESE YEARS OF MINISTRY?
Here are some of the lessons I've learned, many the hard way:
(1) God is a very gracious, merciful and patient God. Me still being here proves that.
(2) You can't accomplish anything overnight except a good night's sleep.
(3) When I got started in 1974, I thought I knew it all. Today, I realize more than ever how much I don’t know.
(4) When I got started, I wanted to know all the great preachers. Today, I just want to know JESUS better.
(5) The people you help the most will often be the ones who end up hurting you the most.
(6) It's harder to live a good sermon than it is to preach one.
(7) You will reap what you sow — sow right now what you want to reap later.
(8) Pastors live in glass houses — so buy a lot of tape. You'll be taping lots of shattered windows in the years to come.
(9) Some of the most wonderful people you will ever know you’ll find in God’s Church. You’ll also meet some mean folks along the way. Don’t run from them because the devil always has his disciples wherever we end up going, no matter what we end up doing.
(10) You've got to learn to forgive as Jesus forgave, or you'll never keep your sanity.
(11) Loyalty to the pastor wasn't a high priority to me when I got started in 1974. When I became a Pastor in 1980, everything changed.
(12) Don't worry about what people say about you. Just concern yourself with what God knows about you.
(13) Understand you will be misunderstood.
(14) Get plenty of Kleenex because there will be lots of nights you cry yourself to sleep over someone or something that has disappointed you and broken your heart.
(15) Don't base your faith on results; base your faith on the Word of God.
(16) God will always place a Barnabas in your path at just the right time to encourage you.
(17) Some of your greatest enemies can and will become some of your closest friends.
(18) Some of your closest friends can and will become some of your greatest enemies.
(19) You'll never cease to be amazed at the people who get committed and fired up for the Lord.
(20) You'll never get over the hurt from sheep who wander from the fold if you truly have a shepherd’s heart.
(21) After your greatest efforts for God, Satan will send some of his greatest temptations and persecution.
(22) You can never change past mistakes, but you can always ask for forgiveness.
(23) The little people always make the biggest impact for God. Be their champion!
(24) Spend your life meeting the needs of others and God will make sure all of your needs are met.
(25) The price of hanging it up is always higher than the price of hanging in there.
“Spend your life meeting the needs of others and God will make sure all of your needs are met.”
(26) If you ever get in a hurry, it’s a sure sign you’ve missed God.
(27) It's better to do things God’s way the first time because you’re going to end up doing it His way sooner or later.
(28) One of the greatest joys in life is having people who really know you, yet they still love you.
(29) The greatest people on earth are people who have genuinely surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. Those people will support you, pray for you, and help you build God’s Church.
(30) In spite of all the problems, pitfalls, pressures and pains, being a pastor is still the highest and most noble calling in all the world … and the most rewarding.
I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the privilege God has given me to serve as Pastor of this great church. And, one more thing...
… I'm still learning.
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.