A very long time ago I came to the conclusion that God blesses those who work the hardest. I remember telling my pastor this somewhere between 2011-2013.
During those three years, our church grew in attendance by 27%, 42%, and 34% until we were eventually seeing over 800 people show up to church each weekend, and we were in a town with a population of 2,200.
I hesitate to share those numbers sometimes because it seems like I’m bragging, and it seems like I’m trying to somehow take the credit, and it can be discouraging as a pastor to hear about other churches’ successes when you’re just trying to hold your church together.
But I need to share those numbers with you because I need you to see what’s possible. I need you to see the potential that your church has to grow.
And numerical growth isn’t everything, but it’s way better than declining attendance, which is what many churches are experiencing right now.
God blesses those who work the hardest.
And I say that knowing that in may not be completely true, and it may not even be wise, but there’s something to it.
Because during that time period, I’m sure we had dozens of other pastors in our community praying that God would bless their churches with new people. People who don’t know Jesus.
These pastors preached the exact same Gospel. They absolutely loved their congregations. And I’m betting they prayed longer and harder than we did.
Yet our church grew like crazy, and most of theirs declined.
Is it because God loved our church more than theirs? Of course not. We just happened to work smarter and harder during that time period.
I have to add smarter into the equation because no doubt there are some pastors who haven’t seen growth in their churches who work just as hard as anyone.
But you have to work hard at the right things, and I think that’s what we did during that time period, and I think that’s why we saw God bless in so many incredible ways.
Now, let’s fast forward to today. Our church is still reaching 700-800 people each weekend, although now those numbers are spread across two campuses.
We’ve had slight ups and downs since those years of incredible growth, but our attendance has mostly remained the same.
I still believe that God blesses those who work the smartest and hardest, but there’s also a cost that I didn’t really consider before.
And I’m still wrestling with all of this.
But I’m starting to see that sometimes better ministry comes at the expense of your health, your marriage, and your family.
I think we’re seeing that play out right now as more and more pastors choose to leave full time ministry to move into secular work.
They’ve decided the cost isn’t worth it to them anymore. They can do ministry in other ways without having to deal with the pressures and burdens of leading a church.
And yet, we need more pastors, and we need them to be healthy.
So, what’s the solution?
I have no idea.
But, I know as a pastor there’s always work you can be doing that will help to grow the church.
Crafting a sermon that connects.
Connecting on social media.
Writing thank you cards.
Leading a small group.
And, there’s also work you can be doing that will help you have a better personal life.
Taking your spouse on a date.
Throwing a ball with your kids.
Going to the gym.
Investing in a hobby you enjoy.
Is it possible to have a successful ministry and a great personal life?
I think so, but it’s not going to be easy.
You’re almost always going to have to sacrifice something.
You get to choose what that something is going to be.
Will you spend a little more time growing the ministry, and a little less time on the personal stuff?
Or will you spend a little more time investing in the personal stuff, and be ok with letting the ministry not be everything it could be?