If You’ve Ever Felt Like a Failure in Ministry …

“For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:18).

“Did I fail?”

Every man or woman who ministers in the Kingdom of God is immediately struck by two great realities: the perfection of God (and thus the desire to present to Him worthy offerings of worship and service) and the imperfection of mankind (meaning anything we offer Him will be flawed, even at its best).

As a result, we are often tormented with feelings of inadequacy and hounded by the sensation that our efforts have not been enough, our devotion has been too weak, and our ministries a far cry from what we had hoped.

“I feel like a failure.”

Those words and that feeling are voiced not just by those who literally are failures. Some of the (outwardly) most successful pastors and spiritual leaders on the planet deal with the same sense of futility.

“It’s never enough.”

We leave church on Sunday knowing that the sermon we delivered was nowhere near as wonderful as the one we received from the Lord in our study.

What happened between the study and the pulpit?

The vision we had for our church soon ran into the reality of a thousand foes: our own self-doubt, the skepticism of certain members, the honest inquiry of our friends and supporters, and the ongoing needs of the congregation. 

This project started out to be far better than it turned out. What happened?

We were laboring, planting seed and cultivating, and expecting our efforts to produce a banner crop. When little fruit appeared, we naturally felt that we have been the reason.

We have failed.

Here is our best counsel to the hard-working laborers in the Lord’s field who find the reality at weighing-in time to be less than they ever envisioned when they headed into the field at the beginning of the day …

1. “You have been in the ministry long enough to know you can do everything right, but there are still a hundred and one other factors that influence the result.”

We do our best and leave the rest with the Lord.

2. “You have been faithful. That’s all that is required.”

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (I Corinthians 4:2).

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Joe McKeever
Joe McKeever has been a believer over 60 years, has been preaching the Gospel over 50 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian Publications over 40 years. He lives in New Orleans.