If I could have a do-over, I would do all three of these things MUCH quicker in my 25-year journey of leadership.
1) Exercise daily.
I'm not a work-out-a-holic by any means. Anyone can tell that from even glancing at me. But, the fact is, for a few months now I've been exercising even if just for 15 minutes a day. The majority of the days I do 30 minutes. And it is absolutely life-changing, particularly related to stress. Some days even if I've already exercised, I go back and do a bit more if something comes up. It helps a lot! Lately I've said to myself, "why didn't I start doing this sooner?" Exercise has been called, "the best drug in the world."
2) Be happy while waiting.
Are you waiting for challenges to be worked out, before allowing yourself to be happy? The truth is, things will never be perfect until heaven. If you are leading a church or an organization, few easy problems come to your desk. By the time they get to you, other people have usually tried to solve them and can't. If you wait until you have no problems to solve you put happiness on hold - until heaven. How fun is that?
3) Make relationships with other pastors a daily priority.
During the earlier seasons of my ministry, these relationships were sometimes relegated to district council or sectional meetings. I was so consumed with whatever was going on with the church, I didn't carve out time. I now realize that was counter-productive. I went through some things that showed me, I can't survive or thrive without those relationships. And, they can't grow or last on a once or twice a year connection. I usually have a personal interaction with another pastor (besides the one I'm married to!) at least once a day in some fashion. Larry and I e-mail, Facebook message, call, or meet in person with at least one other pastor or pastoral couple a day. It makes a huge difference. Receiving and giving in these relationships is vital to health and longevity in leadership.
These aren't my only lessons learned, but they are 3 of the biggest ones. How about you?