Back then I also expressed the hope for a culture of affirmation, a servant hearted leadership, a contemporary style of worship, biblical preaching and teaching, and facilities that would serve us and bless the community. I concluded my vision statement with “the hope of many lives transformed into fragrant offerings of praise by the good news of Jesus Christ in Courtice and the larger Durham region.”
The Lord used Stan’s challenge to teach me an important lesson. A clear vision and mission statement really can guide you into God’s preferred future!
There are many other important things that I learned during these years at Hope Fellowship. Here are some examples.
- You don’t need a tie to preach effectively. But it’s wise to overdress for weddings and dinner with the Queen.
- Dare to think outside the box. When you do, dreams of cycling across Canada to alleviate poverty, taking a sabbatical in a culturally diverse place like Hawaii, and doing disaster relief work in distant places become reality.
- Don’t hesitate to use your own stories to illustrate God’s big story.
- Every day, ask God for energy and creativity.
- When there’s an issue, talk with, not about someone, and talk with them sooner than later.
- If you mess up, ‘fess up.
- Respect and kindness go a long, long way in every relationship.
- It’s the Lord’s church and “our” church, not your church, because every member is a minister and a missionary.
- Let the boundaries fall in pleasant places so that you don’t burn out. Unrealistic expectations from others and yourself will do you in.
- A culture of grace is a beautiful place for imperfect, “falling short of God’s glory” people to try, fail, try again and grow.
- Pleasing the Lord is more important than pleasing people, so don’t be afraid to take an unpopular position when necessary. You’re still God’s beloved.
- In the long run, encouraging people and giving them space to flourish works better than telling them what they should do or think.
- God really did give us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
- Confidentiality is one of the highest values in ministry. Loose lips really do sink ships.
- Generosity of spirit toward your staff creates a deposit of good will from which you can make withdrawals when you’re in need.
- Always have an adventure on the side to keep you excited, challenged and interested in life beyond your daily responsibilities.
- There is more room at the Lord’s table than you ever thought or imagined.
- Simplicity is good. Gratitude is even better.
- Ending e-mails and letters with “Grace and peace” provides a constant tone check for every communication that you send out.
- Always listen to your best friend and marriage partner. Her insights and intuition are usually spot on!
- As for your kids and grandkids, be there for them as much as you can even if it means occasionally disappointing others.
- Following Jesus is a beautiful way to live.
- You really are saved by grace, not by works. So relax in what Jesus did for you, rather than relying on what you did for him.
- Live every day as if it’s your last. Before you know it, it is.