Home Books Faith Lessons from Over 60 Years of Friendship with Jesus (Part 3)

Faith Lessons from Over 60 Years of Friendship with Jesus (Part 3)


For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a series of articles looking back over my 60 years of walking with Jesus and describing some of the lessons of faith and ministry I’ve learned along the way.

Read it Part 1 is HEREand Part 2 is HERE.

The world has changed a lot in the 42 years since I founded Saddleback. When we held our first service in the spring of 1980, there were no cell phones. We didn’t have the Internet. No one had a personal video camera. Only a handful of people had personal computers.

I remember we bought three computers for $10,000 in the first few years of Saddleback. I lost three leaders in the church because of it. They called the purchase a waste and said we would never use three computers. But times have changed.

Change is inevitable. You don’t have to love change, but you can’t stop it. The world will change every day. You can count on that.

You may resent or resist change. Or you can use it for your growth and God’s glory. The choice is yours.

But here’s what I’ve learned in 60 years of walking with Jesus: You can’t grow without change and you can’t have change without loss. why? Because in the growth stage you have to let go of the old in order to grasp the new. There is no loss without pain, and there is no pain without grief.

And you simply cannot grow without pain and sorrow in your life.

Like anyone else, I experienced mixed emotions when we experienced the changes at Saddleback.

I encourage you not to be a prisoner of all your emotions as you go through change. For example, here’s how you can navigate two very common emotions during change and use them to help you grow.


I never doubted God, but I doubted myself. I wondered if I was the right pastor to lead Saddleback. Sometimes I was sure God could find someone better. I wondered if I really heard God when he called me. All these doubts are normal.

After about ten years as a Saddleback leader, I discovered an important principle: doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs. We get into trouble because we do the opposite. We believe our doubts, and we doubt our beliefs. This is nonsense. Beliefs are meant to be believed. Doubts are meant to be doubted.


Different fears come with change. I dreaded every major decision we made at Saddleback. But we still moved forward because I didn’t let fear stop me from doing what God had called our church to do. We did the right thing even when we were scared to death.

Fear will keep you in an arbitrary prison. Never argue with your fear. It doesn’t work because fear is not rational. You can’t use logic to get rid of fear. The only way to deal with fear is to face it. You have to do what you fear the most.

Saddleback’s story is about doing what we were afraid to do because we knew they were right. When you do what is right, even when you are scared, you are courageous.

Never make decisions based on the emotions that come with change. Emotions, by definition, are temporary. Every single emotion, good or bad, will not last long. You don’t want to make permanent decisions based on fleeting emotions.

Besides, emotions lie to us all the time. They are not always honest. In our modern culture, we have made our emotions our idols. What God says about you and your situation is far more important than what your emotions say. Feelings come from many sources – and not all of them are good.

You will face changes for the rest of your ministry and life. You may like some of the changes. Others you cannot. The longer you serve, the more changes you will see.

But all changes can help you grow. This world may change quickly, but God never does.

As you rely on God’s constant presence in your life, He will help you grow.

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