I follow a lot pastors on Twitter. Many of these people who I follow have multiple staff under them. According to the statuses that post, they are flying all over the country, and often, out of the country. They are in many meetings that seem to demonstrate that they are busy being used by God to reach, teach, preach, and give counsel to many people. These ministers have set the standard that the rest of us ‘regular’ pastors feel, or have been told, we must measure up to.
As a pastor, it is often a struggle to find significance God’s Kingdom while trying to attract, yes attract, people to come to church. The problem is that not many can measure up to these more famous, and gifted, pastors who have resources that are unavailable to most ministers. This can leave a minister chasing his or her tail sifting through many different thought processes. Some are, but not limited to, “Am I supposed to be in ministry?” “Am I in the right place?” “Does God want me to struggle?” “Why is this not working?” I think you get the picture.
Yet, a pastor has to feel that he or she is making a difference. The minister needs to feel that God is still with him or her even though there may not be numerical growth. Or, small growth; even a decline. Many of the ‘regular’ pastors wrestle with how know if they have been successful on a daily basis. Yet, because of today’s media services, these people are constantly reminded that they are not measuring up to the ‘others’ who are nationally known as leaders.
The short answer that I am considering right now is that we are not supposed to feel like we have become successful. This is not a motivational statement that someone who is struggling is trying to hang on to. Instead, it seems that if one looks in Scripture for enlightenment, then it could be argued that there were prophets, priests, and Apostles. There were also kings, but I want to put that aside for now.
If you are prophet, then how often were these people disappointed with the results of their efforts on speaking in behalf of God? These people were lonely, and often abused, along with being made fun of. Yet, God continued to ask them to continue to proclaim even though many were not listening to them. These measured success in their hopes for the future redemption brought by God. And they would never see it.
If you are a priest, then how did he measure success while working in the Temple? This person was simply asked to oversee offerings and make sacrifices to God. These men would give spiritual guidance to people who gave sacrifices more easily than obedience. These too were ignored for the most part. Plus, there were times that the people did not even bring in their sacrifices and offerings. Yet, their job was to remain faithful in their service to God. These measured success by getting to continue to do what they were created for, worshipping God.
If you are an Apostle, these people were persecuted. Every local church they built up did not last. When they finally had a crowd, it was blown up by someone or something. These people did not just get fired, but they were beaten and killed. Yet, God continued to move them forward to where they were unwanted by most. They measured success in being worthy to suffer for the cause of the Gospel.
By measuring success with these thoughts in mind, then we must consider whether most of the American Church has got it wrong. Or, is this just a ‘regular’ pastor who is trying to find comfort? What is it to be a successful pastor? Numbers? Salvations? Baptisms?
If you consider that Jesus said only a few will make it to Heaven because many followed the wide road, then unless those numbers, salvations, and baptisms, really resulted in transformation, then the way we measure success is ultimately wrong. If ministers are being held accountable for what they cannot control, numbers, salvations, and baptisms, then who really is the Lord of the Harvest?