How to Navigate the 3 Ministry Modes II

Part 2: Success

By: Dan Reiland

We all long to bear fruit in our ministry.  However, in our previous entry, we shared Pastor Dan Reiland’s thoughts on a stage of ministry he deems surviving.  Is there a way to more consistently experience significant ministry impact?

Today we continue the series from Dan Reiland’s article as we look at the second ministry mode: Success.

Mode 2: SUCCESS 

Success in ministry is always the desired utopia until you have it.
When you’ve experienced sustained success, though certainly a good thing, one of two things may happen, it’s either never or enough, and you desire greater levels of success, even beyond God’s plan. Or, you are surprised because the treadmill of success starts to feel somewhat hollow and empty.

Characteristics of Ministry Success:

  • Your leadership is effective, and you realize positive results.
  • Your church is growing, and you experience ministry momentum.
  • Something seems to be missing, and you have a sense of inner unrest.
  • The ministry is growing but requires more energy to keep it going than it did to get it going.
  • You are productive, but tired more than energized.

Success in ministry is wonderful. No one chooses survival over success! But sustaining success healthily is not always easy.

Navigating ministry success: 

1) Operate out of a heart of gratitude. 
Start by acknowledging that ministry success is because many people are helping you and God’s favor is evident. God has gifted you and blessed you with your current results. Don’t take them for granted.

I love this baseball quote that says it so well: “If you are standing on third base, you didn’t necessarily hit a triple.” (Kevin Penry).

Let people know you are grateful. Say thank you to key leaders every day.

2) Don’t trade your inner peace for outward productivity. 
Leaders unknowingly trade inner peace for outward productivity.
When that happens, it’s slow and subtle, like the frog in the kettle. A frog will die in a pan of boiling water when it could have easily escaped while the water was warming up. But it doesn’t jump out because the cool water became warm and comfortable, then a little warmer still, feels good, then boiling hot and soon too late.

Nothing is worth trading the inner peace God wants you to have. His love, peace, and joy should never be traded for anything, even a larger church. Peace and productivity aren’t mutually exclusive, but far too often, the peace of God is sacrificed in the pursuit of God’s mission. That’s not a trade God wants you to make.

3) More is not the only answer.

I love to see a full worship auditorium just as much as you, and I get fired up about reaching more people. But that can become a “success treadmill” if you don’t have your thinking right.

Beware of bigger but not better, be cautious about innovation without life change and watch out for pushing your plan instead of God’s.  Success can quickly become shallow, hollow, and exhausting.

Along with gratitude and inner peace, stay on God’s agenda. More of God leads to the right kind of “more,” and then your success is meaningful and brings great joy.

Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

© 2019 Dan Reiland | The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders

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