Monday, February 15, 2016

Do you self-destruct?

One of the things that always amazed me as a judicatory leader was the number of pastors who seemed to enjoy two or three years of good ministry in a church and then self-destructed. They often blamed the church or other forces and seldom saw anything they had done wrong, but the fact is that much of their undoing was their responsibility.

I often wondered if some of this self-destruction was intentional. I doubt that any of these pastors intentionally meant to shorten their ministries in these churches, but my theory was that in some cases their ministries were enjoying successes that these pastors did not feel they deserved.

Some pastors have a very low self-esteem. Once they experience a certain level of success they become very uncomfortable. Others do not believe they have the gifts and abilities to lead a healthy, growing church. Their fear is that their weaknesses will become obvious to others in such a setting. Their self-doubts cause them to do things that undermine their ministry almost as a way to prove to themselves and others that their self-doubts were valid. Again, this is probably not done consciously, but the end result is the same.

John Maxwell wrote in Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It, "You may succeed if nobody else believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don't believe in yourself."

What can a pastor do if he or she struggles with self-destructing when things are going well?

  1. Remember that God called you to this ministry. He saw in you gifts and abilities that perhaps you didn't see in yourself, but God does not make mistakes. If He can trust you in this ministry you can trust yourself.
  2. You are not responsible for any success you might enjoy in ministry. As a minister you have certain responsibilities and tasks, but any success ultimately comes from God. Our job is to plant and water the seed; God provides the increase.
  3. God is always preparing us for the next phase of ministry. So many times in ministry I've been confronted with challenges that I would not have been prepared to address six months earlier, but God had been working in my life and when those challenges came I was ready for them. God is always equipping those He calls for whatever the future holds.
  4. Ignore any negative tapes that people might have placed in your mind as you were growing up. Maybe your parents, teachers, or other significant persons in your life told you that you would never do much with your life, but they don't have the final word. God does.
  5. Constantly read those Scriptures in which God tells us how He views us. He knew the plans He had for us even before we were born. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ. Reminding ourselves of how God sees us will help erase those negative tapes.
  6. Find yourself a good mentor or coach to help you process any negative feelings you may have about your ministry. If these feelings are strong enough you may need to talk to a counselor to find out where they are coming from and get help to overcome them.
The worst thing you can do is to get into a pattern of self-destruction every time things begin to go well in your life and/or ministry. Your calling from God to serve in ministry is the highest calling to which anyone can receive. See that you live up to it.

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