God has given me some unique opportunities in my life and I will always be thankful for them. I have also had unique opportunities in my life to learn a number of life lessons. I have had the opportunity to manage people, be an athlete, be a CEO of a company, be a Biblical Counselor, and be a Pastor with thirty-four years’ experience. I have had the opportunity to speak to a number of different groups as a Pastor, Director of Hope Biblical Counseling Center, Professional Baseball Player (78th player taken in the 1973 free agent major league baseball draft as a pitcher) and as the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the nation’s fastest growing daily newspaper. I have spoken to a broad range of groups and different backgrounds. I also have taken many classes on leadership down through the years and graduated from a Leadership Academy. I received a special citation from the Department of Journalism of a major university for my work in journalism. (My degrees are not in journalism!) I have had the opportunity to write books, booklets, articles, and had my own newspaper column. Some of the things I learned have been very valuable, others not so. A newspaper publisher friend of mine called me when I received my Doctor of Theology degree and said, “You know you have been able to do so many different things with your life, you must be excited by this.” The more I thought about this, and the more I look back I thought today I would write about life lessons and try to share and give the value of some of the life lessons I have learned along the way (some painfully). Also, many people think, the Pastor does not understand their life because he has never worked in a “secular” world. As a Pastor just about everyone I speak to works in a “secular” world so my varied experiences have helped me with this (I hope)! However, I believe the Bible is a practical book for everyday life. I serve the God of answers, but I understand what it means to go to work every day and what it means to be successful in my career, and try to work with people. These life lessons come from my varied background and the things (I think I have learned) and I hope are helpful. I also thought I would share some things that not only I think will help people in their Christian life, but their work, and life in general. By the way I am still learning and want to learn!
1. Always Put Christ First In Your Life-One of the big lessons I have learned to do is to make God’s priorities, my priorities. If not I add a lot of pressure to my life that God never intended for me to have. Be a faithful person to what God says, put the obedience to God’s Word as the goal of your life, I Samuel 15:22, …Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. In the illustration of Saul, we should understand that God means what He says. Many people feel they are a lot more faithful than they really are and when they are exposed in their unfaithfulness, (financial reversal, reversal of health, spouse leaves, children not grow up to serve the Lord or live lives not making spiritual or wise decisions, they get mad at God for Him exposing their unfaithfulness. They also use their bitterness and anger about this on others and only exasperate their issues, Ephesians 4:29-32. Be faithful to hear God’s Word, read it, and be quick to obey it. Always be faithful to give to God first, Malachi 3:8-10. I have seen so many people who are unfaithful in their giving and expect God to bless their life. Their finances are always in chaos. As a believer it is a poor testimony to not have your financial house in order. It hurts your testimony, limits your opportunities, and hurts the cause of Christ. I Corinthians 4:2, Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. Galatians 6:7-8, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption (destruction): but he soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
2. Have a Mentor – Wow, I have benefited many times from this. There are two or three men who are spiritual minded and good students of the Bible, whom I respect and I speak with them often and ask questions. I also read what they write. A couple of preachers have made a profound influence on my life. I have had many mentors in my life at different times when I have needed them and at different times of growth in my life. Don’t be afraid of asking for advice and someone to pray with you. Just remember to get advice from a spiritually minded person. Sadly, most Christians ask advice from the ungodly, unfaithful, or worldly Christian. Proverbs 19:20-21, Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart: nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. Be willing to learn from others and from God. It is a prideful man who will never ask for advice or does not seek wise counsel. Learn from people!
3. Embrace Diversity – I know in the business world these are buzz words, but I believe and the Bible teaches it is important to see all people as God sees them, lost and without Christ and in need of the Saviour. Don’t let other people scare you because of their background, culture, race, etc. It has always seemed so natural to me to be inclusive of all cultures and people. My mother taught me to care about all people. It is probably because she came from such a poor background and did not like it when she was treated differently because she was poor. God wants us to have compassion on people and care for them. I did not say compromise with sin. I am very fortunate for this early experience in my life from my mother as this has had a significant impact on how I conduct my daily life. Learn to be kind to others and care about other people Ephesians 4:32.
4. Life Long Learning is a Must –Never stop learning! Have you ever thought about tackling one learning experience every year? If you are in the business world, this could be an industry certification, leadership training, on line learning provided by your company, or something else that demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning. As a Christian if your church has a Bible Institute take a class. Ask your pastor what he would recommend for you to learn. Never stop learning and most of all learn what God wants for your life by being in His Word daily.
5. Make Time to Read Every Day –I know, don’t believe everything you hear or read. For a period of ten years I read a book a week. I have read more than 300 biographies and autobiographies of Christians, pastors, missionaries, and other people. Folks, I have found in business being informed has tremendous benefit when interfacing with peers, and communicating with prospects or clients. Being informed demonstrates your awareness of the marketplace and your community. In my life as a Christian, I need to be a growing learning Christian. II Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyeslf approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly diving the word of truth. As I witness to people, it helps to be able to have a conversation if I am able to talk about different things intelligently. Also, I had my children read about Godly people of the past. Why? Because if they saw that God did wonderful things in their life, He could and would do great things in their lives as well.
6. Identify Your Goals –You would be surprised on how effective this is. There is this old saying that goes, you only hit what you are aiming at. So identify your goals, strategize on how best to reach them, develop a time-line to accomplish them, and then set your sights on your goals. What is the most important goal in my life? To glorify God. I Corinthians 6:20, For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. Make sure you are learning to glorify God every day in your life by being controlled by and walking in the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18-21.
7. Protect Your Future -This is very difficult at times, because of the sin of others, and there will probably be a time when you do have to separate from others because of their sin. Simply put, just do the right thing. The consequences of your actions (both good and bad) will shape your future, your reputation, and your ability to seize opportunities. Do right, recognize consequences, and remember your reputation is your calling card. Don’t burn those bridges, turning back is very difficult and it will catch up to you. Proverbs 22:1, A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. Be a stable person, James 1:8, A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
8. Show Passion and Enthusiasm–I heard a speaker one time say, “Have passion and enthusiasm about your work. Find something you like doing and do it for a living. It is a miserable life to go to work every day and hate what you are doing. When you are doing something you care about it sure makes a difference in how you do it.” This is an obvious one but when you are reading this I am sure you can think of people you work with that show little to no enthusiasm for their work. You know Christians who show no enthusiasm about their walk with God. What! Pastor Coomer you mean employers are looking for employees that are passionate about their work, are innovative, and want to take responsibility and accountability?! I don’t not know how many times I have spoken to young people about maturity and understanding this point. Also, I have spoken to many adults about this. You will be left behind if it appears you don’t value your work or appreciate the company you are employed by. Trust me on this. At the church God needs people to show passion and enthusiasm. When was the last time you made it a priority to go to visitation with a passion and enthusiasm about the lost? When was the last time you volunteered to do something the church needed to have done? How about some passion and enthusiasm in living for God? Your children are not fooled by this and God is not either. Your life also shows where you are by what you have passion and enthusiasm about! Ephesians 6:6-7, Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. If a company employs you do the best job you can possibly can do to represent God and yourself there. At the Lord’s house if you take a responsibility do it to the best of your ability. At home, be the best dad, mom, wife or husband you can be. Kim and I tried to embrace that with passion and enthusiasm. It does not mean we were perfect, but we wanted to please God with showing the proper Godly enthusiasm and passion for having a home to glorify God.
9. Force Yourself Outside Your Comfort Zone -Don’t sit back and fall into the same old, same old. If you want to continue your education but are not sure how you will do, investigate it. Go sit in on a class, or meet with a professor or instructor. Not sure about taking a leadership position on a board or in your company or church, ask someone who has been there. Don’t spend time listening to Mr. and Mrs. Negative all the time. Uncomfortable with public speaking and feel it is holding you back, try a small thing first. The key is don’t wait for that perfect opportunity to make everything ideal, take action and build your confidence, self-esteem and your value!
10. Be the Solution-Not the Problem -This is a tremendous leadership trait. I read this statement by a person. “I remember one of my first jobs. I was all energy; I went into the owner’s office one day to let him know I was frustrated with a continuing problem I was experiencing in the office. What he said to me I still remember. He said, never come into my office again with a problem without presenting or proposing a solution for it. I never did the entire 16 years that I worked there after that!” Wouldn’t that be a great lesson to learn! I have had employees who would always want to share a problem, but no solution. Of course, the same goes for God’s house. People will talk about what they believe are problems, but they never wished to be part of the solution.
11. Never Come to Work Unemployed– Have a plan, and plan your work. I have known many salespeople over the years that arrive at work and then figure out what they will do for the day. This is not a quality of a top producer. I have managed many salespeople over the years, and none of them worked in this manner. You need to have a daily execution plan, identify what needs to be accomplished, and prioritize these tasks. Don’t waste time early in the day determining what the day holds. I use to keep a list of things on my desk of things I wanted to accomplish. One employee told me, “I hate your list!” I said, “Why?” “Because nothing ever gets off that list until it gets done!” Some folks never accomplish anything because they are disorganized and never prepared to accomplish anything!
I hope that some of these lessons I have learned help you in your daily lives. Remember, never let success go to your head or failure go to your heart.
Some thoughts for this article came for an article by Sam Mishelow.