Kevin Ezell: If I could do it over

If you are pastoring with your whole heart and really going after it each day, it is easy to get focused on the moment instead of the big picture. We are lulled into a sense that the way things are is how they always will be. Our kids will always be living at home with us. Our parents will always be around. Our health will always be good.

We spend much of our time talking to people about the eternal, but I am amazed how focused we can be on the here and now.

If I could go back to my early pastoring days and do things over, I would be more intentional in two particular ways:

Multiplying leaders

Good leaders don’t just happen. They are the result of someone’s investment. Someone has spent time with them. Someone has imparted wisdom, sharing life lessons. A good leader has watched someone model good behavior.

If I look back on my early days of pastoring, I can certainly see how there were some leaders who grew out of our church and ministry. I spent time with them as we ministered alongside each other, and we learned and shared things together.

Honestly, though, some of that leadership development took place almost by accident. I didn’t intentionally seek to develop leaders until later in my ministry.

Most churches today suffer from a leadership deficit — especially among men. I think many of us hoped leaders would develop as a result of watching us do it. That might happen with some, but most require a more deliberate approach.

If I could go back, I would have made a focused effort to multiply leaders because multiplication is what the church needs today. If we’re going to overcome the church-to-population deficit, we need to intentionally develop the next generation of pastors and missionaries. They are sitting right there in your pews, just waiting to be equipped for the ministry.

So today — literally — make a list of those in your church you can start developing for leadership. Find resources you can use to equip them. Our multiplication pipeline is a great start, even for those who don’t believe church planting is their ultimate calling.

Proactive scheduling

As a pastor, you already have discovered that the easiest way to schedule your time is to simply allow the most urgent thing to dominate it. Isn’t that the truth? There is always a crisis. Someone or something always needs the pastor’s attention. The problem is, those most urgent things are not always the best investment of your time.

I am not saying you should ignore a crisis that truly needs your attention. You need to pray for and practice biblical discernment. If you allow it, though, other things and other people will dictate your agenda in no time. You wake up and a week or a month or a year has passed, and you have made very little headway on your goals for fulfilling your vision.

This is a risk for all of us.

We need to spend more time at 30,000 feet, where we can see the big picture and have a view of what truly matters.

Ultimately, this means saying no to some things, which is difficult for most pastors. We want to please those we are serving. We also want to help make a difference for the better. So it is easy to say yes to everything. That might keep some people happy in the short term, but ultimately it will keep your ministry from having a more significant impact.

Be intentional with your schedule. Find one or two other leaders in your church who share your goals and vision and let them speak into your schedule as well. They can help you guard your time.

Finally, allow your wife to have a say in your calendar. Most of us sacrifice way too much of our marriage and family in the name of ministry. Remember: The most important congregation gathers around your dinner table each night. You will quickly forget about a church meeting you chose to skip, but you will never regret making it to your son’s basketball game or your daughter’s track meet.

No matter how far along you are in your ministry, it is never too soon — nor too late — to start investing in your church’s rising leaders. And it is a good time to start being much more intentional with your calendar. These endeavors aren’t easy — and maybe not always the most appealing — but if you do them consistently, you will look back in a few years and praise God for what He has done through your ministry.,

Published January 8, 2019