Ryan Livingston: 5 Things I Try to Remember When Leaving a Pastor’s Conference

This Blog was take with Ryan's permission from a social media post after Idea Summit 2021

1. If you are the same pastor you were when you started ... you aren’t doing it right.

A lot of good men with good intentions (usually, anyway ) tried to make the point for years that “change is bad” and you should “stick by the stuff.” I get what they were trying to say, but in the end, we have to remember that we are supposed to be growing. I am suppose to grow in wisdom and knowledge. If I am growing, there are areas in my life that will have to change as a natural repercussion of growth. There is something to be said for holding to your core values; however, there should always be a natural progression of growth in the life of every believer, especially the pastor’s.

2. There is no one else like you, so stop trying to conform to someone else’s identity.

The natural reaction to visiting another successful ministry is to mimic what they do. Imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, but remember that the only One we should imitate is the Lord Jesus. Do not expect that your problems will all be solved by copying what someone else has done; the ministry Christ has given you is as unique as you yourself are. It used to be obvious which Bible college someone had attended by how they dressed, how they preached, even how they combed their hair. Sociologists believe it is instinctive in our nature to seek approval from our tribe or peer group. Just remember to honor God and follow His plan for you, not for the preacher down the street.

3. If the work of God can be explained and quantified by earthly metrics, then it wasn’t really a moving of God.

The tendency I have when going to a conference, convention, or other meeting is to assume that I am not experiencing the moving of God in my own ministry because I am not doing something right. Therefore, if I find out what methodology is causing others to experience growth, then I, too, will experience those blessings of God. The trouble is that there is no “secret formula” - when and where God moves is at His pleasure. This doesn’t excuse my laziness and unfaithfulness in doing what He has called me to do. There are times I don’t see God move because I wasn’t faithful in a matter; but other times, God just requires me to wait on Him.

4. Don’t let a lack of resources stop you from accomplishing what God lays on your heart to do.

This one is always hard for me. I see the way some other church is crushing some particular ministry or outreach, and the Lord lays a vision and burden in my heart to help my own community in some similar fashion. But then the realization hits that I don’t have the resources. Lacking time, money, or people tend to be the excuses I most often use. It is true that we should be wise planners and consider new projects carefully with prayer and preparation, but sometimes the fear of just stepping out into the unknown and letting God provide is what causes me ultimately to say no to the burden God gave me. God will not call where he first doesn’t supply.

5. Find yourself a friend that will stick with you to the end, and invest in that relationship.

For many years, I went to conferences alone to hear about a specific ministry or hear a particular speaker. In the last few years, though, I have been blessed to attend most conferences with a pastor friend, a guy I trust who I know walks beside me. Leaving these conferences now, I always reflect on how blessed I am to have someone in my life who knows me, knows my struggles, and is willing to lift my arms when my own strength fails me. Would I go to a conference alone again? Maybe, but while I was there I would worry more about making a friend than what session I attended. We were created to be relational people. These relationships matter.

Ryan Livingston

Lead Pastor - Southside Baptist

Sarasota, Florida

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