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Toxic Success in the Church

Are you suffering from “success” that is making you spiritually sick?

The toxic success for most of us pastors and leaders has more to do with numbers and growth than it does with money or “things.” Nonetheless, it remains a very real sickness in the church.

Here is a survey I adapted from an inventory Paul Pearsall developed in his provocative book Toxic Success.

Would the people who know you best say that:

1. Your success is coming at the price of being insensitive, and even oblivious, to the needs around you?

2. You vacillate from high energy to total crashing.

3. You are grumpy and don’t laugh easily.

4. People are afraid to bother you because you’re too busy.

5. You’re almost always doing several things at once.

6. People have trouble getting and keeping your attention.

7.  You don’t touch or hug much.

8. You are perfectionistic and controlling.

9. You’re critical and intolerant of other people.

10. You often feel annoyed and bothered because so many people and things demand your attention.

I like to say that success in Jesus’ family is being faithful to be the person God has called you to be and to do what He has called you to do. Pearson adds that “sweet success is being able to pay full and undivided attention to what matters most in life … to experience a fulfilled and calm spirit that doesn’t compare itself to the happiness and success of others, that is characterized by an unhurried daily life led without the burden of the drive for victory.”

A lot of “toxic success” is going around Western culture right now, even in the church.

It is time we take drastic measures to immunize both ourselves and our people.  

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petescazzero@churchleaders.com'
PETE SCAZZERO is author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006), a groundbreaking work on the integration of emotional health and contemplative spirituality. He has also authored The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2003), winner of the Gold Medallion Award for 2003, Begin the Journey with the Daily Office (2008) and several best-selling Bible study guides. Pete is the founder and senior pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a multiracial, international church representing over 65 countries.