If you were to ask ten pastors from the same denominational background the question of what constitutes success in ministry you would undoubtedly get ten different answers. Each response may have some similarities with other responses but I imagine that the thrust of what each person said would be distinctly different. Is success in ministry proportionate to the size of your church? Is it how many staff you oversee? Is it how long you’ve been there? Is it conversions, baptisms or an increase in family units that have joined? Is it merely faithfulness? Is it the number of speaking engagements you’re involved in? The list of examples could go on and on. But the question still remains, what is success in ministry? Because of the various perspectives that abound on this issue, an understanding of what constitutes success and how to get there (if “there” is somewhere to be gotten) has evaded many and been a discussion that far too many times is influenced by what the world deems successful rather than what God says in and throughout the Bible. For that reason (and many more) I picked up Kent and Barbara Hughes’ book Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. I just recently finished it and found it to be encouraging, challenging and refreshing.
The book is divided into four parts. The first part deals with an experience Pastor Kent Hughes had early on in his ministry; it was an experience where he was at precipice that would lead to him staying in the ministry or walking away. For those who are familiar with Kent Hughes’ ministry you know that he stayed in ministry, but the details of that particular event are intriguing, compelling and will serve to galvanize the gospel preacher to be faithful. Part two deals with various definitions of success. He submits that success is defined as being faithfulness, being a servant, being loving, believing in God and his Word, being fervent in prayer, being holy and having the right attitude and devotes a chapter to explaining each of those definitions. Part three deals with encouragements that a preacher can expect, such as the encouragement from God’s calling that serves as an anchor to the rewards that await the faithful. And part four speaks to the specific things that a congregation and pastor’s wife can do to help a pastor be successful. Another more thorough review of this book can be found here.
If you’re looking for a book that will encourage your soul or a book to pass off to men aspiring to gospel-ministry (or men who already serve as pastors) then this is a great resource.