Pastors have a problem. The problem is simple, according to Shawn Lovejoy:
Somewhere along our ministry journey, things got tangled up in our hearts and heads. Our root problem is that we have exchanged God's definition of success for our own. We have begun to measure the way the world does.
Pastors, he writes, are driven by our need for affirmation, by numbers, activity, approval, and fame. We compare, copy, and condemn others. As a result, pastors are discouraged and discontent with the way their lives and ministries are turning out.
That's why Lovejoy has written The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors. Lovejoy does three simple things in this book. First, he describes and critiques the standard way that we measure pastors. Second, he redefines success in terms of vitality, love, teamwork, and a focus on God. Finally, he offers a new set of metrics. Lovejoy writes:
We must not seek to please people. We must please God.
We must not seek to fill auditoriums. We must fill heaven.
We must not seek fame. We must make Jesus famous.
We must not seek our agenda. We must proclaim his agenda.
We must not quit if we are called. We will quit if we are not.
The minute I heard of this book, I knew I would buy it. It's been a long time since I devoured a book as quickly as I did this one. My copy is dog-eared and marked, and there are dozens of quotes begging to be tweeted. I found myself nodding in agreement many times as I read the book.
The most telling word in the subtitle is "impassioned." The thing that made this book so compelling is that it is written with so much passion. Lovejoy is a pastor, and he knows what it's like to measure ministry by the wrong standards. He reflects on a difficult period in his life and marriage: "Two years as a senior pastor and church planter, with all its unique burdens, had completely stolen my sense of joy." This is no academic treatise. It's a book that's born from the joys and struggles of ministry.
I liked this book. Lovejoy knows the idols that pastors are prone to worship, and he knows what to do with them. Don't read this book for a carefully reasoned treatise on pastoral ministry, or as a fully developed philosophy of ministry. Read it for a kick in the pants and a reminder of what truly matters in pastoral ministry.
The Measure of Our Success releases today.
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