The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.
I heartily recommend the following article put forth by the folks who bring you the Leadership Journal. It may help churches' leaders and followers better understand what is praiseworthy.
I will interact with a few quotations to whet your appetite.
Great is Thy Effectiveness?If you've been in ministry long, I think you'll understand the subtitle, or at least the temptation described. It seems almost automatic that we tie our self-esteem and identity to the church we've been called to shepherd. Perhaps this is why so many pastors "feel called" to the larger, more prestigious congregations.
There’s danger in rooting our identity in ministry rather than in Christ.
"It seems too many of us have our identities wrapped up in the measurable outcomes of our work rather than in the life-giving love of the Christ we proclaim."Making matters worse is the unnatural and unbiblical pressure for church leadership to "produce" results, for one's measure of worth tends to be interwoven with quantitative growth. Effectiveness lends itself to arrogant self-reliance and a sense of self-importance. Ineffectiveness lends itself to discouragement and temptation to unspiritual means to supposed spiritual ends.
A great many churches are either plateaued or in decline. If our identity is tied up in how we do, rather than in whom we are, we're doomed to despair.
Biblically, I think we're called to be faithful. Campus Crusade taught me the essence of Christian service: "Sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to God." (However, we didn't always leave the results to God.)
Do seminaries, book publishers, parishioners, or even fellow pastors really believe success is measured in faithfulness to the task God has assigned? Yes, that's a rhetorical question, but you knew that because of who speaks in chapel, whose books are on the shelf, and who gets praised by the populace.
"Yes, we need to work diligently and serve Christ with our very best—this is our worship to God. But how we define success should look very different in the economy of God’s kingdom from the tangible stats the world celebrates."Who's to blame? Does the congregation put unrealistic expectations on the clergy, holding them accountable for what is clearly God's responsibility? After we've planted and watered, only He can make it grow. (1 Cor 3:6-7)
"Some might say these leaders have failed to nurture their souls sufficiently. We usually want to blame leaders for their own burn out, but when I see the pervasiveness of this problem I wonder if there isn’t also a systemic factor. Could contemporary church ministry itself be the problem?"Only God adds to the church (Acts 2:47). Only God opens hearts (Acts 16:14). What a privileged blessing it is to be a part of His process, but we must remember soli Deo Gloria, to God alone be the glory.
Read the full article.