How My Ex Almost Ruined My Ministry-David Anthony Clarke

How My Ex Almost Ruined My Ministry

By the time I arrived at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Warner Robins, GA, where I’m currently serving as Senior Pastor, I had twelve years of experience under my belt. I had served conservative, liberal, and fundamental pastors. I had pastored Black and White congregations. I had been a part of small churches and large ones as well. I had served in the north, south, west, and Japan. From trustee to Minister of Music to Youth Minister to Assistant Pastor to Senior Pastor, man, I had experienced quite a bit.

My ex, experience, that is, almost ruined my ministry. In all my years, I had seen, read, and heard about a lot that painted, or should I say, tainted, my view of what I was walking into. It can happen to the best of us.

My ex, experience, that is, made me stereotype the congregation. It didn’t take long for me to realize that although I had been a part of several different types of congregations in various parts of the world, Union Grove was different. If I was going to enjoy the journey, I would have to open up to learning a few things. I literally felt, at times, that none of my experiences in previous ministries or the books I read or the stories I heard about other pastors who walked into similar situations as mine could help me.

Don’t get me wrong. Experience is priceless and welcome on any team. It can keep you from being naïve and it brings a greater level of awareness than inexperienced people may bring. However, experience also has a way of crippling us if we allow it to fill our minds with stereotypes that make us believe we have people figured out before we even try to get to know them. Anyone walking into a new leadership situation would do well to pray and ask the Lord to reveal to them who they are leading. I started doing this immediately, especially after my first storm. I don’t know how God may do it for others, but for me, He is showing me who my church is through a very slow process. He has not revealed their I.D. in a dream. Rather, I am going through the normal process of developing a loving relationship that is taking what can seem to be an awful long time, but is more rewarding than getting a supernatural snapshot in my sleep.

If I could share one thing with leaders who think they’re pretty well experienced, it would be don’t let your experience ruin your new venture. I think too many leaders, especially pastors, walk into new leadership positions ready to spend their time 99% teacher and 1% student. It should probably be 55% teacher and 45% student—plus or minus a few percentage points. Learn your organization’s story by sitting down and listening to people who are new as well as people who have been there for a while. Listen to the young and the old. It blew my mind as to how many different versions of Union Grove’s story are circulating throughout my congregation. Trust God for the truth as you sift through it all. Make it your business to get to know people—their stories, their fears, their dreams, their strengths, what all of you actually have in common, what makes your organization unique, and how you can change the world together.

Summary: Let experience work for you rather than against you. Don’t let your experience cause you to stereotype individuals or organizations. Experience can be the best teacher. It has certainly taught me not to take it so seriously that I size people up and think I have them figured out before I even try to get to know them for who they really are. Curiosity, God’s grace, and patience empower me to thoroughly enjoy this season of my 19 years in ministry. I’m changing. The church is changing. And we’re changing the world for Christ!

This article was adapted from the upcoming book, Are There Any Questions?, Great Questions Inquisitive Leaders Ask, by David Anthony Clarke, Sr. Due for release in July 2009.
Copyright 2009, David Anthony Clarke, Sr.

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Comment by Eric Hancock on May 5, 2009 at 2:40pm
Excellent Post
the Ministry is a LIFETIME STUDY we NEVER will get it all,,because there is NEW revalation everytime we read the word of GOD/Yahweh...we will never know it all

Job 38
King James Bible

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,

10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.

16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?

22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;

26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;

27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?

36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?

39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,

40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat
Comment by Eric Hancock on May 5, 2009 at 2:39pm
After we get our degrees,DVD's ,CD's and everything else God is still saying that compared to him WE KNOW NOTHING
Comment by lorenzo neal on May 4, 2009 at 5:25pm
Great post! I am ever the student because being an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, we are constantly on guard and ready to move and adapt to a new church and life. I appreciate this article because one thing no course in church administration or church leadership or urban/rural ministry can teach you is how to learn from the people you are called to shepherd. I'm looking forward to the release of the book my friend. Be blessed.
Comment by T.L. Hawkins on May 4, 2009 at 2:52pm
Great Post. Full of truth.
Comment by William B Blount on May 4, 2009 at 1:32pm
Great article and very insightful. Keep me posted on the release of the new book. I would like to help promote it in my area. May God continue to bless you, your family, your church family, and your growing ministry.


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