Living Life in the Rearview

Is it just me, or does your best thinking happen in the shower? I’m not sure if it’s the scalding hot water opening up my pores or the ten minutes alone without a child screaming, “Daddy!” Either way, I try to make the most of it. For me, that means dreaming about the future and trying not to live in the past.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with the past. The past has been very good to me. Sure, I have a few regrets, but overall life has been great.

I just never want to get to a place where I think my best days are behind me. I never want to live life in the rearview.

Do you know why they make windshields so big, and rearview mirrors so small?

It’s because what’s in front of you is way more important than what’s behind you.

Spend too much time looking in the rearview and you’re bound to crash. On the other hand, never look in the rearview and you may be doomed to repeat your past mistakes.

So, what’s a good solution? Keep both in the proper perspective.

Windshields should be big. Don’t lose sight of what’s in front of you. God has promised to give you a hope and a future. Don’t take your eyes off of it.

Rearviews should be small. Not matter how great or bad your past was, it’s the past. Don’t get stuck there, but also don’t forget the lessons you learned along the way.

So many churches are living life in the rearview. They love talking about the good old days but have no plans to improve the days they’re currently living in.

And let’s not forget the other mirror in your car, the vanity mirror. You know the one hiding behind the sun visor? Because every once in awhile you need to take a good look at yourself.

Are you still doing ministry for the right reasons?

Are you frustrated with where your church is?

Are you taking too much credit or too much blame?

I once heard a pastor say, “If you blame yourself for every decrease, you’ll credit yourself for every increase.”

Where’s your focus? Are you looking forward, or are you looking back?

Don’t live your life in the rearview.

Which mirror are you most focused on? Why? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog for tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

4 Traits of Pastors that Persevere

Have you ever noticed how resilient little children are? For example, my three year old daughter just got a Barbie Dream House. Not for her birthday, not for Christmas, just because she demanded it. Now, I didn’t get it for her because I’m just as resilient as she is. I told her no over and over again. So what did she do? She talked her grandparents into getting it for her. She then proceeded to play with it for about three days before moving on to her next demand.

BarbieDreamhouse

I’m not even mad about it. First, it didn’t cost me anything, and second I’m impressed by her persistence. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she wouldn’t back down until she got it. That will come in handy later on in life, although I’m not looking forward to her becoming a teenager.

As pastors and leaders, I believe we can learn a great deal about perseverance through our children. Many of us, myself included, love coming up with new ideas and plans, but we stink at following through on them.

I bet right now you can think of at least one good idea you’ve had that you never followed through on. Go ahead, write it down, and make sure to come back to it later. Or maybe you tried it, and it didn’t work the first time so you gave up on it.

Go through this enough and it won’t be long before you give up on trying anything at all. For some of you that’s your story. You’ve given up when God has called you to persevere.

I want to see that change. I want to see you persevere. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. You own it.

No more excuses. No more blaming others. No more waiting around for someone to tell you what to do. From this day forward, you take control of your life and how you react to problems and adversity.

  1. You gather the right people around you.

Being a pastor can be one of the loneliest positions you can have. I’m telling you that you’re not meant to do this alone. Find a friend that you can confide in. If you can’t find one in your church, find one online because every pastor needs a sidekick.

  1. You find the silver lining.

It takes absolutely no effort to find problems. Those who persevere learn how to see the positives. Maybe no one showed up to our event, but our volunteers did a great job setting things up. The offering was really low this week, but we had five first-time guests. Always look for the positive.

  1. You focus on what you can change.

There are some things you’re just never going to be able to change. You have to learn to let them go and focus on what you can change. There are some people who will never change. Quit stressing about it, and let God handle it. Put your energy into the things you can change, and don’t waste your time with the rest.

Being a pastor is hard. I’ve written about it before. Unless you begin taking the right steps, your chances of surviving ministry are slim. I hope we can change that. I hope you’ll choose to persevere.

What’s one great idea you’ve had but have never put into practice? I’d love to hear about so leave a comment below. Plus if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Three Lessons on Explosive Growth

Guest Post: Vince Daniel

I am not writing this as a professional church planter or church growth specialist. I haven’t written any books on the topic of “Church Growth in a Rural Community.” We have just seen some really amazing things happen in the last nine months in our church. I want to share three of the lessons we’ve learned as God has taken Real Life Church from 350 in weekly attendance to over 900 in weekly attendance in a short amount of time.

SundayintheSouth

  1. Know Yourself

Before I pastored Real Life, I had never pastored a church larger than about 100 people. There have been moments that I have thought, “What is God doing? I am not qualified to do this.” And then God would send 100 more people to the church just to show that His quantity is never based off my qualifications. I believe God keeps me in that tension so that I never get to the place of thinking that I am the sustainer. The moment I start to think “Oh I’ve got this,” He sends more folks to remind me those are His words not mine. So I do my best to stay teachable, constantly learning what the next level is like, just in case God decides to take us there.

  1. Know your Culture

Our community is unique, so is yours, and so is the church’s down the street or two towns over. It took us a while to wrap our minds around this. I wanted to build a trendy new facility that had all the bells and whistles, but I have come to realize if the product is authentic and done with quality, the packaging matters little in our community. We currently meet in a renovated horse barn, and our people love it. Before you make an assumption…we are not a Cowboy church. We are a community that appreciates authenticity and humility. So be approachable and gracious. We are in a community that appreciates quality. So whatever your facility is create an environment that is excellent. I promise if any horse walked into our barn now they would say, “Whoa!” (You see what I did there…Horse joke…whoa).

  1. Know God

If God truly places His hand of favor on you and your church, you cannot manage, contain or manufacture it. You can only hope to live in it as long as He sees fit. In the last nine months, we have had to change our facility three different times, our children’s check-in system at least twice, and our organizational structure has resembled a game of Jenga. And all of this has been awesome! Our teams freak out a little bit, but we survive. We look back wondering why God would ever allow us to be a part of this movement called the local church. We look forward in wonder of what He will do next. It is my prayer that you will still be in awe of what God is capable of doing in your church. Stop trying to figure out what’s not working and go back to what always has, loving people with the Gospel of Jesus.

Vince is a Jesus follower, church planter, husband and dad. He is the senior pastor of Real Life Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas which will be celebrating their 5 year anniversary in September.