I just finished listening to an excellent message from Kent Hughes, the author of Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. According to Hughes, many pastors and ministry leaders feel like failures because they are measuring success according to the metrics of this world rather than according to Scripture. With this premise, he gives the audience seven “pillars” of a successful ministry.
Once a month I schedule a personal retreat for a full day. I use this day to reflect on the ministry God has given me and to examine how I am doing in light of His calling. My goal for these days is to repent of sin and resolve, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to conduct myself in a manner worth of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).
My next retreat day is tomorrow so I wanted to use these pillars as a guide to ask myself some hard questions. Below are the questions I am going to wrestle with and I hope they challenge you in your own unique context:
Pillar #1: God measures success by faithfulness to His Word.
Q: In what ways have I devalued the authority of Scripture in my life and ministry?
Q: Is there a command from Scripture which I am failing to be obedient to out of fear of offending or upsetting someone in my congregation?
Q: Am I regularly studying and meditating on the Bible?
Pillar #2: God measures success by serving Him with a foot-washing heart.
Q: In what ways do I need to repent of a domineering leadership style so that I may embrace being a servant?
Q: Is there a duty in my personal life or ministry that I am avoiding because I feel as if it is “below me”?
Q: What are some specific ways I can serve the Church God has placed me over as a shepherd?
Pillar #3: God measures success by loving Him with all one’s heart and soul.
Q: Is my ministry flowing from a deep love for God or an unhealthy need for human recognition?
Q: Is God’s love evident in the way I speak to and treat those closest to me – especially Ashley and Ava?
Q: What changes is the Holy Spirit asking me to make to my schedule so that I can pursue my relationship with God above all else?
Pillar #4: God measures success by believing/having faith in the God who is.
Q: In what ways have I foolishly tried to re-create God according to my image and imagination?
Q: Is there a promise from God which I am struggling to believe? If so, what steps can I take to find help and counsel?
Q: Do I honestly have an accurate view of God as He has been revealed in Jesus Christ?
Pillar #5: God measures success by praying with the passion of Jesus Christ.
Q: What demands on my time have I allowed to push away the regular discipline of prayer?
Q: What people or organization is God laying on my heart this month to spend extra time in prayer for?
Q: What are some steps I can take to strengthen my prayer life?
Pillar #6: God measures success by living a holy life in a pornographic world.
Q: In what ways have I allowed my mind/heart to be seduced by lust?
Q: What does regular repentance and freedom look like in the area of sexual lust?
Q: Have I been meeting regularly with (and being honest with) my accountability partner – especially in regards to lust?
Pillar #7: God measures success by having an attitude that sees “the stars through the bars” and by rejoicing in the elevation of others.
Q: Have I been jealous of the success of other pastors and churches? If so, what is the root cause of this jealousy?
Q: How have I allowed pride to express itself in my life – both in the forms of arrogance and self-pity?
Q: How is God calling me to submit my attitude to that of Jesus as recorded in Philippians 2:1-11?
I hope these questions both challenge you and encourage you. If you are not in the habit of taking a 1-day retreat every month, you should try it. This is vital for all of us who are Christians – regardless of the vocation God has called us to.