Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome was one of those books. And I am so glad they made me read it. I was a young man looking at ministry through some rose colored glasses thinking that if I just did this list of things correctly, the Lord would bless the ministry and it would grow. The growth I was always looking forward to was numerical growth.
Honestly, inside most young men (and probably older men), there is that desire to be very successful at what they do. That is in the heart of the ministry person as well. Well, this book helped me see that ministry isn't about being successful according to the world's standards. They say at the beginning of the book that they wrote it in order to encourage those in ministry. Check. Successful.
The book is written by Kent Hughes who shares openly about a dark time in his life when he felt as if his ministry was not what he thought it should be. He began, with his wife, to search the Scriptures to find a guideline on how to evaluate their ministry to see if it was successful. Here is what they found. "We found no place where it says that God's servants are called to be successful. Rather, we discovered our call is to be faithful" (35). They go on to say that success is faithfulness, serving, loving, believing, prayer, holiness, and an attitude.
One of the greatest chapters, which makes it a book that all of you should read, is the last chapter. It is called "How the Congregation Can Help." He shares many sad stories in this chapter on how pastors have been beat up by their congregation and left to feel as if they are not successful. He gives six specific ways that the pastor can be encouraged by their people. His advice is worth the price of this book.
If you are in ministry, this book is a MUST. Maybe of all the books on this list, this one has helped bring perspective to all that I do. If you are not in ministry, this book is highly recommended. I say that because it will hopefully bring you some perspective of what your pastors will be going through.