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I Wish Someone Had Told Me

I ran across an article the other day written by a man listing some of the things he wished someone had told his younger self about the vocation he had pursued. I know how he felt. One of the benefits of aging is gaining a clear sense of what you wish you would have known when you were younger. It got me thinking along the same lines. So just for fun, here are five things, in five areas, I wish someone had told me:

When I first became a pastor:

  1. Some people are safe, some are not. Unsafe people will often seek your trust, and you will often be quick to give it. Be so, so careful.   
  2. You can’t please everyone. 10% will love you, 10% won’t, 80% are suspending judgment. Thank God for the first, realize there’s nothing you can do about the second, and spend your time winning over the third.
  3. Don’t mimic popular speakers. Learn from them, listen to them, but find your own voice—and trust it.
  4. You won’t grow as fast as you hope you will. Instead, think of the acorn turning into an oak; meaning, don’t overestimate what you can do in one year, but don’t underestimate what you can do in 10. Or even better, 40. And remember, size doesn’t matter as much as influence.
  5. The people you start with may not be the people you finish with. Sad, but true—and yes, painful.

When I first got married:

  1. A friendship started this; a friendship will see it through.
  2. Honor her father and respect her family of origin. One day you will be that father, and yours will be that family of origin.
  3. Savor every memory; you’ll never share them with anyone else. 
  4. Your spouse will change, grow, mature, become more confident and more self-assured. Don’t fear it—welcome it. It’s just that much more to honor, respect and love.
  5. She will almost always be right. Listen.

When I first had children:

  1. You’ve decided to prioritize family over career and you wonder if it’s worth it. It is.
  2. It seems like you will be this family forever – parents and kids, together in the home – but you won’t. It will go by so fast. Drink this season in.
  3. You will never have a more important role than being a father to your children. It will mark them for life and will be your true legacy… extending into the church, where you will one day understand that you serve, ultimately, as a father.
  4. You will one day give your daughters to another man—it will be the hardest day of your life. But you will ordain your sons to the role of husband and father—it will be the proudest day of your life.
  5. You have a vision for your family, but just wait… grandparenting is the BEST.

Bonus: Don’t buy bikes for Christmas and wait to assemble them on Christmas Eve. Really. No, really. Basketball stands, too. Actually, never, ever buy anything that has “some assembly required” written on it. Until you are a grandparent. 

When I first started to earn money:

  1. Avoid debt.
  2. Start saving.
  3. Avoid debt.
  4. Start saving.
  5. Really.

When I first became a Christian:

  1. The closest thing to normalcy is going to be three steps forward, two steps back.
  2. Who you are in Christ is who you are, not who someone else is. Don’t try to emulate another’s calling or gifts, personality or temperament. Just let God form you into His dream for you.
  3. God is very, very fond of you.   
  4. Your sin is real, it’s serious... but remember that grace is not just for others; it’s also for you. It’s not something you just teach about, it’s something you can – yourself – receive.
  5. Prayer really, really, really, really matters. 

James Emery White

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.    

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