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There are certainly lessons that I wish I'd learned sooner in the ministry, things I hope to teach you. For example, consider that your strength uncontrolled will always be your weakness. I learned this truth about 25 years ago, but I wish I had learned it 50 years ago.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I have a strong work ethic. I have little or no patience for laziness. Part of the reason for my work ethic is that I grew up on a dairy farm. I was up at 5:00 am and down at 10:00 pm every day. A dairy farm is hard work. You work when you feel like it, but you also work just as hard when you don't. If rain prevents you from sowing the crop, there's plenty to do inside like replacing the tires on machinery or grinding feed for the cows. That work ethic has become an asset on many occasions. In terms of ministry, it's enabled me to get a lot done in a short time. In terms of hunting, it's motivated me to climb the highest mountain in order to take the trophy of a lifetime. Uncontrolled, though, my work ethic becomes my weakness. I often put more on my plate than I can reasonably do in a day. I don't always take the time for rest and refreshment that the body needs.

Another example is my focused attention. Those close to me will tell you, "He is one focused person.” Whatever I am working on at that moment has my undivided attention. Maybe it’s developing a particular initiative or preparing for an hour-long engagement like meeting with a particular donor. That focused attention has contributed immensely to the growth of EvanTell in the past 43 years. Uncontrolled, though, it gets me into trouble. My wife might sense that I’m not hearing about her day because unfortunately, I am still focusing on mine. I might neglect to ask a person about the illness of a loved one that is on his mind as I pass him in the hallway.

What have I learned? Keep and maintain your strengths, but be careful to keep them within your control. Whether it be through an accountability partner or a "limitation" you impose upon yourself, direct your strength; don't let it direct you. Uncontrolled, it becomes a liability instead of an asset.

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