I have some ideas on how success should be measured, but I’m interested as well in the thoughts of other pastors and those who have pastors.
What makes for a successful pastor(al ministry)?
I think the biblical answer as to what God deems success is faithfulness, employing your all dependently on the Spirit to the glory of God alone.
The degree to which one does that is the degree to which one is faithful and consequently successful, in the eyes of God.
Now, in the human reality in which we attempt to live, I derive satisfaction (rightly or wrongly) when I see fruit of my labor.
Theologically, I may think one thing, but practically, I easily get discouraged when I see paltry “results.”
In other words, I preach and teach with the goal of changed lives to the glory of God. I can’t so much perceive that without the benefit of elapsed time and without personal relationships to pick up on life change that is cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral.
I have been blessed to have shepherded some people for years and have seen God do amazing things in taking rebels and making them faithful servants of the Most High. Having had a part in that brings me great joy.
Of course, I’ve also poured myself into others who have shipwrecked their lives, betrayed me, and just plain walked away from the faith. So, I know there’s much more to the equation than what little I do. (cf. 1 Cor 3:6-7)
I think success as humans deem it (e.g., pulpit committee, seminaries, publishers, etc.) may be quite different from that which God sees as successful.
A “pulpit committee” (hate the term because pastoral ministry is so much more) wants to see results during your tenure. This is like the “plus/minus” statistic in hockey. They realize there are other players on the ice, but did more good things (e.g., bottoms in seats, bucks in plate, and buildings erected) than bad things happen while you were pastor?
A seminary defines success in similar fashion. How often does the guy who’s labored 30 years in rural Oklahoma in a declining population, struggling just to minimize the bleeding, get asked to speak in chapel? What about the hip guy in a rapidly growing area whose church quadrupled in size in 3 years?
Who buys books from someone without a “name” or certain letters after the author’s name? Doesn’t quantitative success give the author ethos whereby books might be sold?
Pastor … how do you define if you’ve been successful? Can you still be successful if your church dies or that couple you counseled divorces?
Peeps … what makes your pastor a success in your eyes? Do you communicate that to him or does he feel the pressure to “produce results” … even from his own congregation?