3 Church Leadership Tips from Brian Zahnd

“We thought it would be fun to do a series where we asked a few of our writers to share a bit about their leadership journey. It’s a great way to get to know them and their story a bit better.”

Q. What’s the most significant lesson you learned early in your career?

A. The lesson of patience. Although I didn’t learn this lesson early enough. It seems that patience is close to the heart of wisdom. The wise response is almost always the patient response. Most young ministers are in a hurry—but God is never in a hurry. If we are in a hurry, we will almost certainly be out of step with God. It took me a long time to learn this lesson (and I’m still learning it), but coming to terms with the “slowness” of God is one of the most significant lessons I’ve learned.

Q. What’s the most significant mistake you’ve made in your career?

A. The mistakes that sprang from my impatience. Whether it was impatience with people or projects, whenever I have acted in impatience it has almost always led to some form of mistake. Impatient saints don’t exist. The great saints have learned the secret of being patient with the world, patient with themselves, and even being patient with God. We may be in a hurry, but it seems God never is. In my youth I regarded my own impatience as a kind of virtue; today I see it as folly, a cousin to selfishness.

Q. What’s the secret to achieving longevity in ministry?

A. I don’t know that there is any one secret, but I’m convinced that if we are overly “results oriented,” then we are setting ourselves up for a level of frustration that may eventually be intolerable. Jesus calls his ministers to embody a faithful presence, not to do “great things for God.” The sooner a minister learns to separate seeking to meet ego needs from the true work of the ministry, the greater the odds are that this minister will achieve some degree of longevity in the ministry. The other thing I would mention is the absolute necessity of a having a circle of a few close friends.

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