My good friends Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research and Todd Wilson of the Exponential Network conducted research in 2010 that only confirmed what I have sensed and seen for years. Their research showed that most pastors don’t feel “successful” in their ministries. In their research, most pastors admitted to struggling with
- the battle to overcome pride and drivenness;
- loneliness and isolation;
- lack of rest;
- maintaining joy.
The question I’ve been asking is very simple: Why?
Why are so many pastors and ministry leaders falling? Why are they so vulnerable? Why are they so unfulfilled? Lonely? Insecure? Burned out? Discouraged? Depressed? Why are so many not seeing the fruit they hoped they would see? What is wrong with pastors?
I have wrestled with this. I have prayed over this. I have talked with many ministry leaders who are winning, some who are losing, and many who are struggling.
Here’s my basic conclusion: the main reason so many of us are struggling stems from our basic definition of success.
Our root problem is that we have exchanged God’s definition of success for our own. We have begun to measure success the way the world does.
To reclaim the calling, purpose, and joy that put us in our ministries, we simply can not measure our success by the size of our crowds, buildings, or budgets…at least we should not. If we do, it will cost us. It has cost me. I’ve seen these false measures of success wreak havoc in my own heart, mind, ministry, and marriage. Thank God, He redeemed me from measuring things the way the world does before it was too late.
Today, my life, ministry, and family are better because of it. I’m still tempted daily…but by His grace and power, I am winning. I want God to use my story and my learnings in working with other pastors to redeem the stories of thousands of pastors around the world.
Together, we must together rediscover “The Measure of Our Success.” That measure is found in, and only in, our relationship with Jesus Christ. In Him and through Him, we find our destiny, purpose, clarify our real calling, and begin to measure what really matters.
Today, would you be willing to ask: “Jesus, what really matters to you?” Go ahead. Ask Him the question. If you will, and then be quiet enough for long enough, He will speak to you. Read back through the Gospels with these lenses. Before you know it, you will have a new agenda for your life. You will find a new sense of calling and fulfillment in your ministry. You’ll rediscover “The Measure of Our Success.”