How do you define a successful church?
How do we measure success as a pastor?
I’ve come to realize that part of my calling as a pastor and leader is to be an encouragement to other pastors—but especially to those that don’t “measure up” to how we in the church subculture often directly or indirectly elevate stories of successful pastors—a.k.a. ‘celebrity pastors.’
This post isn’t a criticism of celebrity pastors. Hardly at all. Instead, it’s a post to accentuate the importance of all those who serve and lead in the church—but especially those pastors you’ll never hear of, those that are not part of the preaching circuit, those that don’t have publishing deals, etc.
I am not a successful pastor. I don’t pastor a megachurch or a large church. I don’t facilitate astronomical budgets, earn a huge salary, travel with huge entourages, fly on private jets and have thousands upon thousands of sermon subscribers.
But nevertheless, I have influence.
We all do.
I’m simply trying to be faithful to the things, to the people, to the city, to the convictions and to the Kingdom work that God has placed before me.
I want to be faithful.
That is all, and that in itself is so important.
Our church recently hosted our Annual Meeting where I shared my Lead Pastor Report. In addition, we published our Annual Report, shared some major changes and possibilities, and also shared and explained all of our financial reports. While there are mentions of numbers, budgets and such, what I was most encouraged by was our pursuit to be faithful to the things that God has placed upon the hearts of our church.
I invite you to take a few minutes to read through our Annual Report. I share it in hopes that it might encourage some of you. My intent isn’t to be boastful but rather to convey a sense of deep profound joy in knowing that God is working amongst our church—even our little church.
Why is this important?
Well, perhaps, it’s because some of us might struggle with pastor envy—or more appropriately—celebrity pastor envy. Let’s be honest: We’re often comparing sizes. Yes, I just went there.
But we do. Pastors and leaders are no different, and for many of us, we simply don’t measure up. Don’t be obsessed with measuring up to measurements. Measure up to faithfulness.
You matter. Your leadership matters. Your influence matters. Your church matters.
While you and I will never make any list of “the most influential” or “the fastest growing” or “the largest” or “the baddest” or “the whatever”…
We still matter. Our leadership and ministry matters. Let’s be faithful.
Speaking of success, many of us have love affairs with “success,” which is why we can so easily fall susceptible to a spiral of insecurity.
If we’re honest—no matter who we are and whatever discipline of work we’re involved with—we have some perception of success. That in itself isn’t bad, but what if our perception of success becomes like a love affair? An obsession of value and self-worth?
That would be dangerous. Borderline idolatrous.
When we’re immature
…when our rootedness is not in the Gospel of Christ, then it leads us into dangerous and lonely places—where we find ourselves constantly comparing or seeking the approval and affirmation of others or via:
- # of followers, readers, etc.
Trust me… When our sense of calling and security is guided by such things, they will never satisfy you.
It’s never enough. Never.
You want more…
because your soul is satisfied by lists, praise, adoration and, ultimately, a worldly sense of success.
Hear this well:
You don’t have to be “the most influential” in the nation. Just seek to be the most influential and loving pastor and leader to the church you’re called to. That will not likely get you on any special lists, but you’ll serve your people well. You’ll be faithful to your flock and calling.
Metrics have their place. But don’t get lorded over by numbers and metrics. Numbers don’t guide us. Rather, the Holy Spirit is our guide. Be faithful.
I think Mother Theresa said it so well:
“God does not call us to be successful, but God calls us to be faithful.”