Nothing you probably haven't heard before. Just a little something that crossed my mind, in the wake of a show we did on Christian "success." It's a condition Christian leaders can suffer from, should the world's standards for success begin to overtake what Scripture clearly teaches us about the subject. And in Christian ministry, sometimes nothing is more harmful than "success."
I call it the "Holy CEO Syndrome." I see it here and there, and none of us is immune from its lure. Sometimes--and it happens to me, too--we Christian leaders begin to believe our own PR, or what a few bedazzled people in our congregation or audience might be saying about us. Or, maybe we find ourselves spending more time "managing our ministry," than we actually spend ministering to those God has called us to serve. Before long, we develop a problem with our hearing, and our vision. We still see all the misery around us, but we begin to believe helping those in need is someone else's concern, 'cause--after all--I have a ministry to run! And we can still hear the complaints coming from those with unfulfilled expectations of our interest in their problems...but we begin to merely "consider the source."
Soon, we begin to avoid those who are less influential, or spiritually significant, then ourselves. We seek to spend time with those whose connections or resources might benefit us, or whose credentials better complement our own. We begin to notice the shortcomings of those around us, and as a result, we begin to "coast" a bit in our ministries. We spend less time in prayer, seeking fresh guidance from God's Word, and the Holy Spirit. We fall into routines, and might even find ourselves going back to the "archives" for more of our sermons or Sunday School lessons. Before long, we begin to dread each new opportunity--each obligation--to minister.
"Holy CEO Syndrome" need not be a fatal malady. We just need a moment to step back--recognize our sin of idolatry--and seek His face anew. "Success" is--to the One Whose grace has saved us--death to self, availability for sanctification, and an unyielding hunger for His holiness. It’s evidenced in faithful, fervent prayer...a servant's heart toward others...and time spent meditating on His Word. Realizing our desperate need for His daily provision...celebrating His victories, giving Him all due honor and credit...that's success, in Christian ministry. The rest--like books written, bodies in pews, dollars in the bank--it's all just a numbers game. Indeed, I've learned the hard way over the years that the One Who gave me "my" ministry in the first place will be just as willing to take it away…should I become too "great" of a leader to wash my brother's feet.