I heartily recommend the following article put forth by the folks who bring you the Leadership Journal.
Great is Thy Effectiveness?
There’s danger in rooting our identity in ministry rather than in Christ.
"Brothers and sisters, you are more than the measurable outcomes of your work."If you've been in ministry long, I think you'll understand the subtitle, or at least the temptation described. It seems almost automatic that we tie our self-esteem and identity to the church we've been called to shepherd.
Making matters worse is the unnatural and unbiblical pressure for church leadership to "produce" results, for one's measure of worth tends to be interwoven with quantitative growth.
Yet, the vast majority of churches are either plateaued or in decline. If our identity is tied up in how we do, rather than in whom we are, we're doomed to despair.
Do seminaries, book publishers, parishioners, or even fellow pastors really believe success is measured in faithfulness to the task God has assigned?
"Yes, we need to work diligently and serve Christ with our very best—this is our worship to God. But how we define success should look very different in the economy of God’s kingdom from the tangible stats the world celebrates."
Who's to blame? Does the congregation put unrealistic expectations on the clergy, holding them accountable for what is clearly God's responsibility? After we've planted and watered, only He can make it grow. (1 Cor 3:6-7)
"Some might say these leaders have failed to nurture their souls sufficiently. We usually want to blame leaders for their own burn out, but when I see the pervasiveness of this problem I wonder if there isn’t also a systemic factor. Could contemporary church ministry itself be the problem?"
Read the full article.