How Ministry Almost Ruined Me


I almost allowed ministry to ruin me. No, it wasn’t ministry’s fault. I am not an innocent victim, and I now take full responsibility for my actions.

I didn’t burn out. In fact, for most of my ministry I ran at a great pace and with great rhythm. So what almost ruined me? It wasn’t my pace. It was my posture.

Execution. Excellence. Growth. These were the mantras of my leadership when I first planted a church and became the Sr Leader. I wanted to be the best. Nothing less would do!

So I pushed...and I drove...and I pushed some more. Nothing was ever good enough, though. No one was ever good enough. No one saw what I saw as fast as I saw it. No one worked as hard as I did. No one cared as much as I did.

Looking back, I realize that my drive for excellence was actually perfectionism in disguise. For a perfectionist, nothing less than perfect is good enough. For years I was not happy unless everything and everyone was perfect, and it never was. My expectations of myself and others were at such a high standard that no one (including myself) could ever measure up. I managed and critiqued everything and everyone to death. My thoughts and discussions would inevitably center around what was WRONG with everything and everyone. I worked to compliment and encouraged my team, but I always had a critique looming in my mind.

As a result, I became frustrated. Agitated. Angry. Negative. I certainly wasn’t as life-giving as I could have been. For people who couldn’t keep up, my first thought was to discard them rather than develop them.

I honestly didn’t recognize this about myself. My spouse did. She tried to tell me gently on more than one occasion that my thoughts and discussions about things and people tended to be negative in nature. I wouldn’t listen. She told me one day that I had become a pessimist. Disagreeing, I said to myself: “No, I’m a realist!”

A realist is just a pessimist in denial. TWEET

I thought I had to be like this to get things done, to make things and people better. Over time I began to realize I was just sucking the wind out of my leadership, my leaders, and my ministry.

Yes, I eventually repented...a long time ago now. I don’t beat myself up about my past sin(s). I simply lead differently these days. How?

Today I realize that:

  • Leadership should be life-giving instead of sucking the life out of things and people. TWEET
  • Leaders should give themselves and others a lot of grace. TWEET
  • Leaders should love tough before practicing tough love. TWEET
  • Leaders should develop people not just discard them. TWEET
  • Leaders should focus on what is excellent & praiseworthy rather than what is wrong & critical.  TWEET
  • Leaders should focus on who people are becoming rather than what they are lacking.  TWEET
  • Leaders should love the journey not just the destination.  TWEET

With great coaching and contemplation, I have grown so much as a leader in these areas. God has helped me lead myself and grow as a life-giving leader. Now I lead the way for lots of other leaders!  

Are you allowing ministry to ruin you?

Don’t allow it to happen another day. Take responsibility. Repent - to God and to the people around you. You will gain credibility by acknowledging it. I sure did.  

Turn things around. Drive to be the best, but enjoy the journey.  

Start believing the best: about yourself, your ministry and others.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Start living that life!

You will need help with this.

The best people to help us are people who have been where we’ve been but have conquered what we need to conquer.

We would love help you learn how to lead yourself and your ministry to the next level - in a life giving way.

Drop us a line and let’s talk about how we can help.

Don’t allow ministry to ruin you.