Lance Witt served 20 years as a senior pastor and five years as the executive pastor at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren. A couple of years ago Lance released his book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul. It’s a great book for church leaders. It’s so good, in fact, that we have our Leadership Coaching Networks at the Unstuck Group read it for the conversation we have about personal health. If you’re in ministry, I strongly encourage you to order this book today, you won’t regret it. Here are a couple of key ideas that stood out to me.
“We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.”
#1 Outward Success
Outward success in a church is easy to measure. The number of first time guests, people who say yes to Jesus, baptisms, people in small group bible studies, people volunteering, giving, weekend attendance and so on can (and should be) be measured. When those numbers are up and to the right there is a perception of success. After all who doesn’t want to see all of those metrics I just mentioned growing in their church? These are good things. But while numbers tell a part of the story, they don’t tell the whole story.
When things are going well it’s easy to believe our press clippings and give ourselves more credit than we actually deserve. We’ve all seen this happen in superstar athletes, high-powered business leaders and yes-even pastors. While there is certainly some credit that should be given due to exceptional performance and results the temptation is to deceive ourselves into believing that we are the cause of the success; that without us, success would not be reached. Be careful of self-deception and pride, the Scriptures say it precedes a fall.
#3 Neglect your Soul
Let’s be honest, it feels good to succeed. It feels good to see progress. It feels good when you hear people telling you what a good sermon you preached or what a good job you’re going leading the church. It feels good. But it’s possible to chase that feeling at the neglect of your own soul. It’s possible to fall more in love with church growth than the church. It’s possible to run to the Scriptures more frequently to find a sermon to preach than to personally spend time with God and hear his voice. It’s possible to neglect your own soul while doing soul work.
#4 Relational Isolation
Relational isolation is a choice. You’re as lonely as you want to be.
In his book Leading on Empty author Wayne Cordiero puts it this way: “Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.”
When we experience numerical success in our church, chose to believe our press clippings, pursue more success in ministry at the neglect of our own souls, and get ourselves in a place where we are lonely we have followed a recipe that leads to the downfall of our lives and the ministry that the Lord has entrusted to us.
“Having talked to some whose ministry has come crashing down around them, I can tell you the convergence of outward success, self-deception, soul neglect, and relational isolation creates the perfect storm for disaster”
Posted in Spiritual Formation