In my first year of pastoring I knew everything.
The church doubled in size and we had to add chairs to fit the crowd one Sunday.
People came to me for counseling.
I was someone!
Fortunately, all these things ended real quick.
It began when I realized I had no idea what I was preaching about. I was toeing the party line, going along with the church’s doctrine and slowly realized that it wasn’t entirely consistent with the Bible.
This put me in a conundrum. Here I thought I knew everything and all of a sudden I realized I didn’t know anything. Even I wasn’t buying my arguments for what I was preaching.
I began expressing in my sermons some of my doubts and questions about the standard doctrine. This caused people to get mad at me and leave the church.
As people leave, people who don’t know much assume others must know something, so then a leaving trend slowly begins. People stopped coming to me for counsel, look at how he shipwrecked the church, what can he possibly know?
There was a stretch of time when we didn’t break 20 people a Sunday for months. We didn’t even bother setting up all the chairs let alone adding more.
This was a brutal thing to live through. I can’t tell you how brutal it was on me. I was shattered in many ways. I wish I could tell you it all turned around once I learned the Magic Lesson that Unlocked the Church’s Potential, one I’ll sell to you for $49.95!
But no, the church never recovered.
But in hindsight I thank God it happened like this! If I had continued to preach the church’s established doctrine, which was in error, and the church continued to flourish, who knows where I’d have ended up.
People fear failure, but I gotta be honest, from what I’ve seen with pastors in churches, success seems to be as, or maybe even more damaging than failure.
Success goes to your head. Arrogance creates abuse, power trips, flippancy, gathering “yes men” who do your bidding, and all manner of weird stuff.
There are very few people equipped to handle success. I would not have been one of them.
In fairness, I sucked pretty bad at handling failure too! I’m perhaps equipped for mediocrity!
The Bible says a couple times that humility goes before glory. If your glory comes first, don’t be shocked when humility follows. Take heed you who stand, a fall might be coming.
Take heart failing pastors! Success might be the worst possible thing that could happen to you!
4 thoughts on “How to be a Successful Failing Pastor”
Thank you for your consistent transparency. I’m actually finding comfort in not knowing EVERY answer.
Thanks. Yeah, a little humility, a little “I don’t know,” can be pretty helpful. Takes some burden off of having to be right and smart all the time.
Someone once said that failure is the best teacher. I have always said that if that is true then I have learned a great deal in life
You and I are probably some of the smartest people out there right now!