Life Lessons I’ve Learned (Part 1)

by Rob Appel


Thirteen years ago this month the Transition Team, selected by the General Council, asked me to interview for the position of the Executive Director of the SDB Conference of USA & Canada. I couldn’t believe that they would want to talk to me — why me? I was involved in the Golf Industry for the past 20 years! What could I bring to the table? And I know that there were others out there who thought just like I did.

Now I have been in this job for the past twelve and a half years. So, what have I learned? Please allow me to share:

1. You don’t know what you don’t know.

You cannot speak on something you don’t know about. I had to learn the real culture of Seventh Day Baptists. If I didn’t, how could I speak into it?

2. Don’t let little things get to you.

Does it really matter who said to do something first? You might get the acclaim you were seeking and loose the teamwork you were building. Don’t sweat the small stuff because little things don’t matter.

3. Patience is a virtue!

I don’t know where all of my patience came from when I started this job (Yes, I really do know where it came from but wasn’t expecting it). Even my wife commented on how patient I had become, especially when something happened that I had every right to go berserk about. (I believe this is the first time I ever used the word “berserk” in an article). Patience has paid off in so many circumstances.

4. Working hard doesn’t always mean working smart.

Just because you might work 12-16 hours a day does not mean you’re being effective. You can be more effective by working and serving smarter. Then you have more time for other ministry areas.

5. Taking care of you first is a must!

I know there might be those out there who would say you are not serving correctly if you take care of your-

self first. But that is not the case! You cannot help others in their role if you are sick, tired, and worn out.

In taking care of you first, you are then in a position to help others in the best possible way. If you are out

of the picture, due to issues you could have avoided, how are you any help to others?

6. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to ministry and churches.

Our churches are ALL different. I stress the word “all” because it is true. And this is a good thing! We are

not cookie-cutter churches and therefore our ministry and service approach cannot be cookie-cutter either.

Just because it worked in one church doesn’t mean it will work in all. I think this is why the M.O.R.E. Program, started by

my good friend the Rev. Rod Henry, was so successful! Each church had to discover its own culture, its own path, its own journey. John Pethtel and Nick Kersten are working on a re-vamping of the M.O.R.E. Program. Nick visited with Rod and they are in the process of rolling out this great program again. You might want to get your church on the early list.

7. No one is perfect.

This especially holds true for people we put on pedestals. No matter how great or enlightened they are, they’re still human. Everyone makes mistakes and nobody is perfect.

8. We’re good at going slowly and need to learn about going fast.

The CLT (Coordinating Leadership Team) talks about this from time to time. It is true for so many of us Type-As who are always trying to jam one more thing into our already jam-packed day (myself included). It’s why practices like yoga, mindfulness, and meditation are so important — they help us practice “slow” and connect us to our true selves.

9. Don’t say you’re lucky when you should be saying you are blessed!

I hear far too many Christians today claiming that they are lucky. Next I will be hearing them say they believe in karma! We believe in the one true God who has blessed us in so many ways! We are BLESSED, not lucky. Act like it!

10. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

You have to be able to laugh at yourself.

Enough said.

Clip to Evernote