Excessive Need to Succeed

The need to succeed consumes some people, including pastors.

Oh, we may let on that we are doing it all for Christ but true motivations tend to leak out. Just a little too much bragging when the church does well. A little too much beating oneself up when the church hits harder times.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin wrote the following for the business audience of Forbes Magazine, but her words apply to clergy, too:

While it’s normal for your accomplishments to make you feel good, basing your entire self-worth on your achievements is like building your house on an unsteady foundation. You’ll need to experience repeated success in order to feel good about yourself – and that’s hard to maintain over the long-haul.[i]

She added that when your self-worth hinges too heavily on achievement, you will tend to avoid doing things where you could fail.

When you wrap up your identity and self-worth in the need to succeed in your role as pastor, some highly predictable things lie just ahead for you:

·         It is harder to relax and just be yourself.

·         It is harder to be open, authentic, and admit mistakes. 

·         You become defensive at the slightest hint of criticism.

·         You overwork to prove yourself and don’t recognize when you need a break.

·         You worry too much and work too hard at winning favor and trying to make people like you.

·         Depression and burnout lurk just around the next corner.

We all know the scripture: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

An antidote for performance-based self-esteem (and that is what we are talking about here) rests in this simple thought: my value cannot be calculated by measuring my performance. My value can only be calculated by the measure of His gift to me.

In other words, accept yourself as imperfect and limited. Let go of the need to project a perfect image to others.  Frankly, it’s just too much work!

So give up the impossible standard of perfection. Balance your lifestyle. Cultivate a life outside of ministry work.

Nurture your relationship with God.

Our identity is wrapped up in Christ. We are secure and righteous in Him, not in ourselves.

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[i] Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2015/01/18/how-do-you-measure-your-self-worth/#6f5781611ed2 on 4/14/17.