I was recently asked by a national magazine to describe the best advice I have ever been given. Coming up with this sounds easy until you really try to nail it down to one specific thing you have learned. I thought about the lessons I have learned in the ministry and the lessons I have learned in life. I thought about the many people who have influenced and shaped my life. I thought a lot. A number of possibilities emerged as serious contenders.
As I pondered it for a few weeks, I finally landed on one thing that emerged at the top of my list. I decided that the best advice I have ever received has to do with putting things in perspective as it relates to both the ministry and to life. What was it? The simple yet profound advice was captured in this one little sentence:
“Things are never as good as you think they are and things are never as bad as you think they are.”
While this tidbit of wisdom might initially sound a tad pessimistic, it’s anything but. When things are good it’s easy to be euphoric and to exaggerate the significance and impact of what you’re celebrating. It feels so good and it feels so right. When things seem bad, it’s equally easy to exaggerate the impact and significance of what’s bumming you out. It feels so bad and it feels so wrong. This advice has taught me to live and lead with a steadier hand and to be less given to the sway of my emotions and feelings. This little bit of wisdom has served me well over the years. It has kept me balanced.
This particular piece of advice was shared with me years ago by Glen Eliott, a lifelong friend who also has a huge heart for the ministry. These days Glen serves as the Sr. Pastor of Pantano Christian Church in Tucson, Az. He is one of those friends that as the years go by you come to appreciate more and more. The best of friends are like that.
So what’s the best advice you have ever received? What made it so good? Who did you learn it from? Why not take a moment to share it here with the rest of us?