I always enjoy traveling with men who are much more experienced than me in life and in spiritual matters. One of my favorite messages from 43 trips to Cuba was by Dr, Harold Sala entitled “What They Didn’t Teach Me in Seminary.” I appreciated hearing practical wisdom from a man who has ministered 30 years longer than I have!
In May I had the privilege of taking another “retirement-age but not retired” preacher with me to Cuba. Pastor Pat Franks has been sharing the Word with the world for many years. In his last session at the Bible Training Workshop in Las Tunas, he offered what he called “a few opinions developed from observation and experience over the last forty years.”
I want to share his thoughts with you for your encouragement:
1. Be loyal to your leaders. There are few things more despicable than an Absalom spirit. Leaders need people they can count on. Many are nearly worked to death, attacked, misunderstood, and poorly paid!
2. Be kind to subordinates. That is the point Paul makes when he says “Masters, do the same things.” You have a Master in Heaven! Don’t talk down to people. And don’t manipulate people; it is an insult to them.
3. Show respect. Call people Mr. or Mrs. or “brother,” “sister.” Don’t be overly familiar. Even good friends want to be respected. The flip side of that is: don’t to be so insecure that everyone including our best friends have to call us “pastor” when addressing us!
4. Come to the defense of those attacked, whether it is a human or spiritual attacker! You will reap what you sow and will one day need someone to come to your defense.
5. Be a friend. Show concern in times of trial such as death and sickness and show support in times of triumph and celebration such as graduations, weddings, and promotions.
6. Show love to people who have made a mess of things. There are a lot more of them than perfect folks like you!
7. Don’t remove personal responsibility from people by making their decisions for them. They are adults, they have a mind, and they will answer to God. Simply be kind, presenting the Biblical truth in love and remember you are not their judge or their savior!
8. Allow people to be emotional. It is normal to grieve, to express doubt, to be discouraged. Certainly there comes a point where grief or sadness may become inordinate, when we must shake them off and go on with life. But to deny them entirely is not an act of faith, it is foolishness! Be real!
9. Strive to build long-lasting relationships, and make the most important one the relationship with your spouse! No one knows you like your spouse. Also, never make a final judgment of a man, however dynamic and charismatic he may appear, without meeting his wife. If she is distressed, bitter, insecure, there is a reason for that! Don’t be fooled by image.
10. Be supportive of the next generation. They will have different taste in music and clothes, but encourage their Christian faith and commitment. If you have young relatives or young acquaintances that are committed to God and ministry, throw your support behind them! Help them financially. It’s one thing to tell them how proud you are of them and what a wonderful job they are doing and another to get your wallet out and put your money where your mouth is.
11. Be generous. Jesus ascended, and gave gifts. It cost Him His life; He is a giver! Those who have truly tapped into His heart are generous! Don’t think you impress Him with your outward acts of spirituality if your heart is cold and your hand is closed!
12. Be considerate. Give older folks your seat, open the door for the ladies and help them with what they carry. In a worship service, show concern for the temperature and the length of time you keep folks standing up for worship. Take care with the volume of the PA system. Pay attention to the little things.
13. Don’t be dogmatic, except in the cardinal doctrines. You may be wrong! Some things are non-negotiable; determine what they are and don’t make an issue out of every other little thing.
14. Keep your word. Pay your bills.
15. Be very slow to embrace the SENSATIONAL. It distracts from the truth; you don’t need it! The Bible is sufficiently sensational for anyone and it is true. Most of the wild stuff you hear is just wild stuff and will discredit you with your hearers when they find out you got involved.
16. Laugh, easily and often, Come down off your elevated place and have fun! You may feel like the weight of the world is on you, but that is not God’s fault; He said he would bear your burdens. It does not honor Him for you to be always dour and solemn. Laugh. Enjoy the journey; you’re walking with the King!