Confession time: Over the years I have had some success and some failure. When things go well I tend to think, “Way to go Brandon! You really did great on that one!” When things go bad, I doubt myself. “What is wrong with me? Am I really cut out to be a pastor?”
One of my biggest struggles as a pastor is fighting the tendency to take credit for the success or failure of my ministry. I feel like if I preach the perfect message, do good follow up, and put on amazing events then I will grow my ministry.
Does anyone see the problem here?
- It isn’t “my ministry” at all. The Church belongs to God.
- If I completely rely on my own talent and ability to move the church forward, I remove God from the picture. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” (Mat. 16:18)
- When the attendance is good, I take the credit. I feel good about myself. I take the glory and give little to God.
- When the attendance is bad, I get depressed. I feel like a failure. My identity is not wrapped up in Christ, but in my own success.
This is a constant battle for me. I have to constantly remind myself of what the Bible says in the book of Proverbs:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the lord.
– Proverbs 21:31
All we can do is prepare the horse for battle. That is the only area we can control. We pray, we plan, and we prepare. In the church, we work tediously to make sure every area is ready: all volunteers are trained, the music is perfect, the message is inspiring, and the environment is welcoming. Every week we prepare the church for battle. Don’t get me wrong, this is very important. BUT, without God, we cannot win!
Victory is in God’s hands, not ours. If God is for us, we are unstoppable. If God is against us, we lost before we ever began.
It takes both parts of this verse. God expects us to work hard, plan, and prepare. God will not bless the efforts of a lazy person. However, God also expects us to fully trust that He alone will bring the victory. We cannot take any credit for success. We have to give God the glory.
This principle doesn’t only apply to the church. It is the same whether you want to win in business, ministry, parenting, education, or any other area of life. Hard work will never compensate for a lack of God’s work.
Am I alone in my struggle with this, or can anyone else relate?