Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Confessions of a Failure

In high school I was voted “most likely to succeed.”

I am intelligent, gifted and confident. So when I discerned God’s call into ministry, there was little doubt that I would eventually find myself leading a large church wielding significant influence within my denomination and the kingdom at large.

But things did not work out that way.

I am completing my 27th year of fulltime pastoral ministry. And “success” seems further away than ever. Many positive things have happened over those 27 years. I’ve had the opportunity to be used by God to influence several individuals toward becoming the people God created them to be. I’ve grown personally and “professionally.” But few would label me a “success.”

I’ve lost parishioners because there were not more visible signs of success. I am a pariah in my own denomination because of the lack of “success.” My family has suffered because I have never been able to “escape” from the small, struggling church environment.

And for many years I was angry with God over this. For some time we were not even on speaking terms. I felt betrayed. He had called me to this particular ministry. He had filled my heart with passion and dreams. But it seemed that every time that “success” was just within reach it would be snatched away.

I’ve put this in the past tense as if it is no longer an issue. This is not quite true. It still hurts when I see inexperienced, less-gifted individuals tapped for leadership roles within the denomination while my name is not even mentioned. It still hurts when I hear once again, “It’s not about you, Pastor. We just need to find a church that has more to offer our kids.” It still hurts when I have to fill out the annual reports that reflect little or no quantifiable “success.”

I’ve questioned my calling. I’ve questioned my abilities. I’ve questioned my faith.

But I have no doubt that this is what God is calling me to do and be and that this is where he is calling me to do it and be it. Unfortunately, he forgot to tell very many others.

What keeps me going is knowing that Jesus was considered a failure by his contemporaries. Paul reminds me that in my weakness God is able to accomplish more than he could in my strength. I do have a commitment to brokenness and surrender that I would have only paid lip service to had I been a great success “out of the gate.”

Yet I still find myself giving God advice, telling him how much more I could do for him and the kingdom if he would only allow me a little “success.” I guess I still have more to learn about brokenness and surrender.

Pastor Rod

“Struggling to allow God to make me into the person God created me to be”

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