10 Life Lessons Learned from Pastor Steve Mays

Peter Guirguis Encouragement 41 Comments

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Thursday, October 2nd was a very difficult day for me, and for thousands of people all over the world.

That’s the day that we found out that Pastor Steve Mays went home to be with the Lord.

Pastor Steve Mays

Pastor Steve Mays was a well-loved Pastor who influenced many for Christ.

Pastor Steve is the senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel South Bay, the church where I’m on staff.

On Monday, September 29, Pastor Steve went in to have his fifth surgery on his back.

By the grace of God, the back surgery was successful.

However, on Thursday morning at 6:30 AM, Pastor Steve suffered a blood clot that caused him to suddenly depart to heaven.

Ever since, tens of thousands of people have flocked to Facebook and Twitter, to express their grief for the loss of this wonderful man of God.

Pastor Steve served in ministry for almost 40 years, and he’s influenced thousands of people for Christ around the world.

I had the privilege of working closely with him for the past six years as one of his IT guys.

Since I worked so closely with him, he mentored me, helped me, and taught me a great deal about what it means to be a Christian.

That’s why in honor of his passing, I’m going to share with you 10 life lessons that I learned from working with Pastor Steve Mays.

10 Life Lessons Learned From an Awesome Pastor

1. Prayer is More Important Than Projects

A few years ago, Pastor Steve implemented a new daily meeting for the staff. Every weekday at 3 PM, Pastor Steve wanted the staff to stop the work that we were doing, and to get together for prayer.

Pastor Steve’s heart was to have us pray for the congregation’s needs, for each other, and for anything else that the Lord puts on our hearts.

Confession: Being so busy at church, there were times when I couldn’t make it to 3 PM prayer.

The interesting thing is that anybody who knows Pastor Steve, knows that he had a very strong sense of discernment.

So one time he calls me, and while we were on the phone chatting, he asks me, “Did you go to prayer today?”

“No Pastor, I was so busy working on this special project. I’m so sorry, I wasn’t able to make it to 3 o’clock prayer today.”

“Peter,” Pastor Steve replied, “Don’t ever forget, prayer is more important than projects.”

Pastor Steve was right.

Take Away:  When you make prayer a higher priority than your projects, then God will bless your decision of putting Him first.

2. Humility is One of Your Greatest Assets

Pastor Steve is well-known for helping people reach new levels of humility.

Every once in a while, he would ask the men on staff to help out in special projects like cleaning the church, organizing the thrift store, and other menial tasks.

These special projects caused us to leave the comfort of our daily routine, and to do physical labor that quite frankly, we didn’t want to do.

But that’s what it means to be a servant of Christ, we are to do whatever work that needs to be done.

We didn’t know it at the time, but God was working on our bad attitudes, and the complaining that we were doing in our hearts.

Pastor Steve knew that God would use these types of special projects to humble us.

In a way, Pastor Steve was setting us up to receive God’s grace, because we know that God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.

Take Away: When you humble yourself before God, He will lift you up in due time.

3. Aim for Excellence in Everything That You Do

Pastor Steve taught in his sermons that Christians should be the best at what they do.

He believed that this was a very strong witness to non believers in the secular world.

He loved to say, “Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”

Then he would follow it up by saying this quote in the image below.

Flip hamburgers for the glory of God Pastor Steve Mays

Take Away: Whether you’re a parent, a spouse, or an employee, make sure that you’re doing your work unto the Lord with excellence.

Free Spiritual Checkup:  Make sure you’re a spiritually healthy Christian.  Get the Pastor Steve spiritual checkup for free by clicking here.

4. Make Time to Love People No Matter How Busy You Are

From watching Pastor Steve’s interaction with others, you’d be able to see how much he loved people.

Because he was such a popular Pastor, he was busy writing sermons, working on his books, and leading the church.

But that never stopped him from regularly making time to counsel people, minister to them, and even doing hospital visits.

Pastor Steve realized that even though sermons, books, and the church are all wonderful things, at the end of the day, it’s all about God and His people.

Take Away: Make sure that no matter how busy you are, that you always make time for loving people.

5. Forgiveness is the Best Way to Get Rid of a Bitter Heart

Pastor Steve was one of those guys that some would call a “straight shooter.”

He was a no fluff pastor, that called it as it is. Husbands and wives would go into counseling with him, and he would tell them that they were both wrong.

He knew that if he could show them that each one of them was wrong, then they would be able to ask for forgiveness from God first, and then from each other.

Take Away: Always forgive others because God has forgiven you. You’ll never have a bitter heart if you forgiving others regularly.

Forgiveness is the best way to get rid of a bitter heart

 

6. Don’t Be a Victim, Be Victorious

Pastor Steve regularly shared his testimony in his sermons.

He shared publicly that he was sexually molested in the seventh grade by one of his teachers.

That was the day when his life changed forever. Pastor Steve became angry, and he began to lash out both in school, and at his parents.

He joined a gang, did all sorts of bad things, and ended up getting shot in the leg.

Pastor Steve was lying in the gutter, shot, and hungry.

That’s when he said, “God if you’re real, then please help me right now.  If you do, I will give my life to you.”

That’s when a couple by the name of Shirley and Henry, found Pastor Steve in the gutter.

Against all odds, they picked him up, took him into their home, and they gave him something to eat. Shirley and Henry also gave him clothes, let him take a shower, and then they took him to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

That’s where he heard Pastor Chuck Smith preaching the gospel. At the end of the night, Pastor Steve gave his life to Christ, and his life changed forever.

Ever since he became a Pastor, he regularly shared his story of how he was molested, and how God gave him victory through Christ.

It’s a strange thing to do because most men who have been molested never share that with anyone. That’s because it’s a very shameful thing to talk about.

But Pastor Steve overcame the shame as he left his molestation at the foot of the cross, and he never looked back.

Take Away: Even though bad things happened to you, Jesus will use them for your good. But you have to surrender those hurts to God.

 

7. Trust God When You Feel You’re Alone

Pastor Steve knew a thing or two about what it’s like to feel alone sometimes.

He had more than 28 surgeries and during those times, Pastor Steve shared that he sometimes would feel lonely.

Additionally, being the senior Pastor of a large church can also be a lonely road at times.

Pastor Steve says that when you feel like you’re all alone, don’t trust what you’re feeling. God is with you, He’s helping you, and He’s carrying you through the tough times.

[Tweet “He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5″]

Take Away: Your feelings aren’t to be trusted, but your faith is.

Walk by faith not by feelings or sight

 

8. Give Your Money to God

Pastor Steve was a big-time believer in tithing.

Not only did he believe in tithing, but he believed in grace giving.

The difference between tithing and grace giving is a generous heart.

Pastor Steve believed that tithing was the bare minimum that Christians should be giving to God. Grace giving is going above and beyond your tithe to give back to the Lord.

I remember Pastor Steve sharing from the pulpit that someone one asked him, “Should I tithe off of my gross pay or off of my net pay (after taxes)?”

Pastor Steve answered, “Well that depends…Do you want to be blessed off of your net, or off of your gross?”

Take Away: You’ll never be able to out give God. The more that you give God with a sincere heart, the more that God will give back to you.

It may not always be given back to you financially, but it can be in other forms of blessings.

9. Don’t Give Up on the Hardest of Hearts

Pastor Steve had a radical testimony. God saved him from being a gang member, and turned him into a senior Pastor of a church.

As Pastor Steve used to say, “God saved me from the gutter-most to the uttermost!”

And boy is that true!

Since Pastor Steve received so much grace from God, he believed that no one was beyond God’s reach.

When parents told Pastor Steve about their prodigal children, he told them to not give up, and that there was hope.

When people told Pastor Steve about their drug addicted family members, he told them that God was able to set them free.

And when people shared that they knew close friends who were backsliding, Pastor Steve told them that God was able to get a hold of their hearts.

Take Away: You might have a friend or family member that has hardened their heart towards God.

Don’t give up praying for them because you never know when they will get right with God.

Make a U-turn for Christ

10. God’s Plan For Your Life is Better Than Your Own Plan

If you were to know Pastor Steve as a teenager, then you never would have predicted that his life would have been so fruitful.

He went from being a gang member, to preaching the Word of God.

He went from selling drugs, to giving people hope in Christ.

He went from chasing his mom with a machete, to running after sinners with the gospel truth.

By the grace of God and all glory be to Him, Pastor Steve led an extremely fruitful life.

Take Away: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

In Loving Memory of Pastor Steve Mays

Pastor Steve may have had a slow start in life, but he finished his race well.

He overcame many obstacles, and he never gave up.

It’s an honor for me to have worked with such a wonderful man of God.

I learned much from Pastor Steve, and I hope that these ten lessons will bless your life, as they have blessed mine.

If you’ve ever heard one of Pastor Steve’s message, or if you’ve ever read one of his books, then please share in the comments how he’s affected your life.

Free Spiritual Checkup:  Make sure you’re a spiritually healthy Christian.  Get the Pastor Steve spiritual checkup for free by clicking here.

Comments 41

  1. My son Geoff was saved at CC So Bay under Pastor Steve’s ministry. Then Geoff went on to become a pastor. He’s my own son and my pastor.

  2. I was saved and set free from a 16 yr drug addiction on January 26, 1989 through the anointed teaching and a touch from God at Calvary SB… My entire journey of salvation was orchestrated so well by the Lord, I never saw it coming… Being prayed for by inmates, flipping through the yellow pages to find something close, dressing in the rattiest clothes I owned (I wasn’t interested in a social club) to walking in and the first words I heard were ” God doesn’t care what you’re wearing, He wants your heart!”. I met Jesus that day and never looked back. Jan will be 26 yrs without dope and I spent the last 15 years pastoring a flock of folks with hurts, habits and hangups just like me… RIP Pastor, and thank you for yielding to the Holy Spirit .
    djean

      1. This was well done and accurate to the man I knew.
        Miss many of you as well.
        You would al be surprised, how often many of you remain in my prayers.

  3. I was blessed to have accepted the lord Jesus as my savior about 4 years ago through one of Pastor Steve’s sermons. He really had a way of delivering God’s word, it really touched my heart and I never looked back after that. Growing up my dad was in jail throughout my childhood, he passed away from HIV when I was a teenager. I did a lot of drinking, partying and had an abortion. I was living a worldly life and felt empty, until my friend invited me to CCSB. I thank God that he gave us such a good leader. He was a true man of God. I will miss him dearly. He truly changed my life, I never thought I would have left church the day that I accepted the Lord feeling set free! Thank you pastor Steve for your faithfulness.

  4. As I come to evaluate Pastor Steve and his passing from this Life to his New Life in Christ I can’t help but not be as overwhelmed with Sadness as I am with a state of Peace, Reassure and a waiting on being in his presence one day as with Our Lord and Savior. Actually hearing the word of God from the teaching through Pastor Steve their is no other way of admitting that he is with Our Lord because of Gods Love for Steve and his Children. He loved us before we Loved Him and His promise of eternal life is fact not fiction. He says in His word that he has prepared a place for us, if it were not true why would he tell us. Everything that Pastor Steve went through, the Love and Suffering of serving Christ would be in vain if Jesus did not rise from the Dead, our hope in Eternity with His undying Love would be void. Pastor Steve knew this, he knew that even Death could not sway him, because of the Spirit of God revealing this to him. I miss him…Pastor Steve. I will miss his teaching of the word of the One and True Living God. Another Pastor will be appointed that’s for sure, but the Word of God will live forever throughout Eternity.
    I thank you Heavenly Father God Jesus for allowing Steve Mays to be our Pastor in this time. I was saved by hearing the word of God at South Bay and it was from a Man that was willing to die to himself and live for Christ. I will always be thankful for that.

  5. As I come to evaluate Pastor Steve and his passing from this Life into his New Life in Christ, I can’t help but not to be overwhelmed with Sadness as I am with a state of Peace, Reassurances on being with my brother one day as with Our Lord and Savior. Actually hearing the word of God from the teaching through Pastor Steve there is no other way of admitting that he is with Our Lord because of Gods Love for Steve and his Children. He loved us before we Loved Him and His promise of eternal life is fact not fiction. He says in His word that he has prepared a place for us, if it were not true why would he tell us. Everything that Pastor Steve went through, the Love and Suffering of serving Christ would be in vain if Jesus did not rise from the Dead, our hope in Eternity with His undying Love would be void. Pastor Steve knew this, he knew that even Death could not sway him, because of the Spirit of God revealing this to him. I miss him…Pastor Steve. I will miss his teaching of the word of the One and True Living God. Another Pastor will be appointed that’s for sure, but the Word of God will live forever throughout all Eternity. I thank you Heavenly Father God Jesus for allowing Steve Mays to be our Pastor in this time. I was saved by hearing the word of God aa my Wife was at South Bay and it was from a Man that was willing to die to himself and live for Christ. I will always be thankful for that.

  6. I was 18 years old and my heart was broken when I first attended Calvary Chapel from the old building. That was 23 years ago. I was moved by the praise and worship and Pastor Steve’s message. So much had happened since then from joining the military, coming back to California and I still find my way back to attending the service at Calvary Chapel and being part of the single ministry. I stumbled on my faith which compromised my moral decisions and once again found myself broken. I continue to go to church while living in sin. Until God took me away from it by getting me deployed in Kuwait. I felt lost, alone and broken while trying to serve our country in the middle east. I found comfort, healing, forgiveness, and letting go simply by listening to the Light of the world CD that Calvary Chapel sent me while I was deployed. For every time I find myself broken from my personal life and career, Pastor Steve’s message gave me comfort and hope. I listen to him every morning at 6 am on my way to work through the radio station. My drive to work will never be the same. I suffered from fear of driving due to what happened when I was deployed and listening to Pastor Steve on my way to work put me at ease from my anxiety of driving. Praise God for Pastor Steve.

    1. Wow, that is such an amazing testimony DJ! I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult things must have been for you. But thank God, the Lord has been faithful, and He’s brought you through many things using Pastor Steve as one of His vessels. Thank you for serving our country, and for all that you have done for us to protect us and to give us the freedom we enjoy.

  7. I started going to Calvary Chapel South Bay when it was only around 50 people, very small. I saw the church be blessed by growing and moving to Gardena. I continued going until I moved to Northridge. Just recently the last few months I started listening to Light of the Word every day. I listened to Pastor Steve sermons and the topics he covered all pertained to me. I even mentioned to my husband Pastor Steve is so clear about his messages. I couldn’t get enough of them. He will always be my pastor . God put him so I and so many others can/could understand the word of God. As I grow in my walk I can appreciate even more Pastor Steve’s sermons. He was and will continue to be a blessing to me and so many others. I felt so sad when I heard of his passing but I remind myself he’s in the best place with our lord . Continuous prayers for Gail and family.

  8. Thank you Peter for sharing! As Pastor Rob said, “He was the real deal…”. I was so privileged and blessed to be one of Pastor Steve’s sheep for many years. So thankful God led me to CCSB where Pastor Steve was not afraid to tell it like it is and speak Truth.
    When my mom passed a couple years ago in a board and care home, the owner, a doctor, came to do the paperwork. As we were making small talk, it came out that I attend CCSB. Later I found out he is a Quaker, but he knew of CCSB and said, “That’s a church that follows the Lord…that’s why it’s grown so much!”

  9. I only knew Pastor Steve through his book Overwhelmed and a few DMs on Twitter. But his book really impacted Kathy and I during a time when our grandson was having a tumor removed. He was nothing but gracious and supportive in all our communication. Also, it’s funny what you wrote about Pastor Steve and prayer because he hardly knew me but he prayed for my family. God used him. Thanks for sharing these 10 lessons Peter.

  10. Pingback: Steve Mays’ Life Of Suffering (And how God healed him) | God Running

  11. I’ve attended CCSB for the last 10 months. The moment I walked into the auditorium, I could feel the Holy Spirit following out of his preaching. These last ten months have helped me grow more since I became a Christian, 20 years ago. Pastor Steve had a unique and special way of explaining the word, that kept you on the edge of your seat waiting for more. I miss him and hope to live my life as pleasing to The Lord as he did. You could also tell he had a great love for people, I struggle with that, but God is working in that area. You could tell he died to himself a long time ago. God, give me the ability to die to my self and live for others even more.

    1. Amen, those are some really great things that you said Joseph 🙂 Thank you for sharing that with us. I’m also going to join you in asking God to help me to die to myself. It isn’t an easy thing to do but it’s always worth it.

      God bless you Joseph 🙂

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  13. Thank you Peter for a great article about Pastor
    Steve! Several years ago , when I was new to Calvary Chapel, I decided to visit the Thuirsday evening service, which I very much enjoyed. After that, I browsed around the fabulous Church book store, Cornerstone. By the time I got to the parking lot ,it was very dark and only as few cars were left. What a shock when I realized I had locked my keys in the car, along with my cell phone. As I nervously scanned the almost empty lot, trying to fiquire out what to do next. a friendly young couple appeared and allowed me to use their phone to call home. Hubby Mike was none to pleased to hear that he had to drive to Gardena to bring me spare keys. As I waited on the lonely side walk in the cold night air, a car with 2 guys pulled up behind me. One of them asked me why I was standing out there in the dark by myself. I cautiously kept my distance and quickly explained that I was awaiting the arrival of spare keys to get into my locked car. Then the driver asked me if I’m freezing since I had no sweater. I told him I like being cold, it burns calories. He insisted on getting me a nice jacket out of his car trunk to end my shivering . Suddenly I recognized who they were. It was Pastor Steve Mays and Pastor Rob! It blew me away how kind, gentlemenly, and efficient they were in coming to my aid. After helping me put on the warm jacket, Pastor Steve summoned a very pleasant security volunteer to wait with me until the keys arrived. It was a nice surprise when the Pastors gave me 2 books to give to Mike. I’ll never forget how gracious and wonderful they were to me in my episode of distress. An outstanding example of genuine Christ-like servant leadership.

    1. Wow, what a great story Thea! That sounds just like Pastor Steve and Pastor Rob, both of them are always thinking of others 🙂

      Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful encounter 🙂

      1. I appreciate your friendly words of encouragement, Peter .BTW I had the previlege of hearing you speak about your interesting testimony and how you became close to Jesus. It’s such an exciting faith -builder to see the amazing and unique ways God draws others to Him. What a pleasure to read all the uplifting comments posted here by so many fine foks., Peter. I’m wondering about your relatives in Eypyt. Is everyone safe and well?

          1. Yes, your’e right, Peter! It was at the High School Ministry with Pastor Charlie Woods. You have a very good memory,

  14. I listened to Pastor Steve monday thru friday on my drive home from work. when I heard the news I was in shock I felt so sad I felt like I knew him even though I never met him. His teachings were always so close to my heart because what ever I was going through that day his message would minister to my heart. I pray for peace & comfort to his family. Pastor Steve rest in Paradise and thank you so much for all you did. I met you on the radio and so thankful for what God did in your life. Your testimony is amazing. Thank you. I attend Calvary Chapel in Oxnard.

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