This was not a thing for me. I believed my congregation was, pound-for-pound, just as strong and healthy and fruitful as these larger congregations.
But there were times when I felt the pressure to measure up to other congregations. This pressure was self-inflicted. At points, I foolishly accepted the deception that numbers, prominence, and apparent success were the signs of God’s blessings on a church or ministry. They are not.
During one of these periods, I discovered a truth that set me free: Prominence and significance are not the same thing. Size and strength are not synonymous. The one at the front of the line is not necessarily the most important person in the line. He may be up front because he cut the line.
Ministry is not about pressing your way forward in the line of prominent pastors or churches. It is about being a faithful steward of the message, people, and work the Lord has entrusted to you.
I now serve a larger congregation. And I am grateful for the platform the Lord has given me. But I need this reminder now more than I did when I served a smaller congregation. Prominence and significance are not the same thing.
Celebrity is an illusion. And Christian celebrity is spiritual warfare against true ministry.
Of course, we want to be faithful and fruitful for Christ. But we must remain faithful even when it seems we are not being fruitful. May the Lord help us to be faithful where he has placed us, without being preoccupied with getting to the front of line. Beware. The quest for ministerial prominence is a trap. “But many who are first will be last,” warned Jesus, “and the last first” (Matthew 19:30).
I like the way one well-known pastor puts it: “If you work on the depth of your ministry, the Lord will take care of the breadth of your ministry.”