When you die, will God say, “Good work, faithful servant?” I sure hope so, but in my case, I’m not counting on it. God, after all, knows me too well!
A few decades ago, when I began my trek through the gnarly terrain of being a “certifiable” church musician, I believed myself to be without guile, hopelessly wise, and enthusiastically capable of anything and everything. Fortunately, that only lasted a few hours and I came to my senses rather quickly.
None of us do all of the things we wanted to do—believed we would do—and few of us ever do half of the things we say we’re going to do. That’s a harsh but realistic view of what it means to be a human being. The consequence of this life outcome is the gnawing reality of regret. People who say they have none are usually lying through their teeth.
At three in the morning a couple of weeks ago I sleeplessly listed my most haunting personal regrets about leadership in the church. Wallow along with me...
I regret not showing greater respect for authority, blurting out stupid opinions that ultimately were just that—opinions. I wish I had listened more to the people I worked under instead of trying to impress them with how much I knew
Frankly, I’m surprised I got away with it at all. While I was pretty overt in my distain for what I perceived to be the ignorance of others, I sometimes noticed in some of my colleagues something worse—quiet, mumbly, discontent. That can be even more destructive than opening your mouth and expressing yourself freely!
I’m surprised any of us stayed employed!
I regret not loving people more and caring about “product” less.
There was so much opportunity to be in rich and lasting relationships and I often blew that opportunity because I was so hung up on getting ready for Sunday. It seems that while I was trying to honor God, I was, well...not very God honoring.
I regret not saying, “thank you” more instead of deflecting compliments with a hurried, “God is good,” kind of false modesty.
People have a legitimate and useful need to affirm what they see to be your strengths. We should all let them do that without trying to feign humility. If you struggle with taking any credit for anything, try this formula. Someone says, “Thanks.” Accept it with a simple, “Thanks,” then quickly move on to affirming them for something like, maybe...being affirming.
Receiving praise is sometimes how we help people get a piece of the action.
I regret not calling my mom every week on Sunday afternoon instead of taking a nap.
Do you think that’s too obvious? My mom is gone, but I can still hear her saying, “Oh, honey, I know how busy you’ve been serving the Lord.” There’s no excuse for not calling your mom!
Music ministry eats time, but it shouldn’t eat people!
I regret not talking to my colleagues more often.
There is always a lot to learn from like-minded allies. I talked to them all the time, but it was usually to tell them how great my program was developing. I should have more often asked them what they were doing, what they were learning—how they were doing.
Oh, I did all that...just not often enough.
I regret not being more innovative and substituting repetition for genuine imagination.
I think I’m a creative at heart, but often I let good enough be good enough and though that’s common currently, it wasn’t back in the day.