The following is a guest post by T.J. Francis, second vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church of Walton.
The pressure is immense and at times even unbearable. You want to make a good impression and appear to be making an impact in the Kingdom. You dream of being the headliner at the next church growth conference. Maybe you will be the next Christian idol, pop-star pastor everyone is talking about. You convince yourself success in ministry is right around the corner—one seminar or book away. You just know your church is the next megachurch, if only you could get your deacons on board.
It doesn’t take long before your frustration becomes full-blown depression. You can’t get out of bed in the morning, the passion is gone, and you are just one business meeting away from leaving ministry. The joy that once filled your heart, the ideas that raced through your mind, and the confidence that you had in your call have all faded. You think no one notices, but in reality everyone around you knows that you have thrown in the towel. You are a failure, or at least that is what you think.
Does this story sound familiar? It should because pastors are dropping out of ministry every day at an alarming rate. Why? I believe one of the central problems in ministry is the way we define success. Some have adopted a model of success measured in purely secular terms where bigger is always better.
I would like to make a simple proposal for measuring ministry success purely in biblical terms. My prayer is that pastors around will stop believing success is only measured in attendance, buildings, or budgets.
First, feed the sheep (John 21:15-17). Systematically and passionately teach the congregation the Word of God. Teach them to know, love, and obey God’s Word.
Second, lead the sheep (1 Peter 5:2). Lead the congregation into the community to evangelize and watch their love for the community grow. Lead them to take a mission trip and you will be amazed at how excited they become about global missions.
Third, pour your life into the sheep (1 Thess 2:8; Titus 1:8). Shepherds spend a great deal of time with their flocks. If you are naturally introverted, then force yourself to get out of the office. Meet with them in coffee shops, visit their businesses, and invite them to your home.
Success in ministry is when you and I obediently follow the Chief Shepherd, when we stop re-defining our ministry, and when we learn to simply thank God that he has called us to proclaim His gospel.