Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome

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Press:Crossway Books Crossway (January 7, 2008)
Publication Date:2008-01-31
Author Name:R. Kent Hughes,Barbara Hughes


Every year thousands of God's servants leave the ministry convinced they are failures. 
Years ago, in the midst of a crisis of faith, Kent Hughes almost became one of them.
But instead he and his wife Barbara turned to God's Word, determined to learn what God had to say about success and to evaluate their ministry from a biblical point of view.
This book describes their journey and their liberation from the "success syndrome"-the misguided belief that success in ministry means increased numbers.
In today's world it is easy to be seduced by the secular thinking that places a number on everything.
But the authors teach that true success in ministry lies not in numbers but in several key areas: faithfulness, serving, loving, believing, prayer, holiness, and a Christlike attitude.
Their thoughts will encourage readers who grapple with feelings of failure and lead them to a deeper, fuller understanding of success in Christian ministry.
This book was originally published by Tyndale in 1987 and includes a new preface.

About the Author

Kent Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and visiting professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide.
He serves as the series editor for the Preaching the Word commentary series and is the author or coauthor of many books.
He and his wife, Barbara, live in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, and have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.Barbara Hughes has supported her husband Kent’s pastoral ministry for over forty years while also raising four children.
She is a popular teacher of women’s groups and the author of several books.
Barbara and Kent live in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, and have an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.


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Comment List (Total:14)

  •     Excellent book. Every pastor should read this and become familiar with the pitfalls.
  •     It is so easy to miss what God would consider fruitful and faithful ministry by falling prey to the worldly ways success is measured. Every pastor and Christian worker should read this book.Dr. Sandy Shoemaker
  •     In terms of content, excellent and well-needed. My complaint, at least with the Kindle version, is with typos - misspelled words, names not capitalized, commas in place of...
  •     As a school teacher, I found Hughes' book applicable for all Christian vocation. It reminds all Christians that success is not found in size or numbers, but in faithfulness,...
  •     Incredible book for anyone considering going into ministry. My husband read this as part of his college class but I ended up reading it along with him because it was that good!
  •     This was a gift and is a great book being enjoyed
  •     I would encourage anyone and everyone in ministry to read this book. This book will not only liberate you from a worldly "success" standard of measure in ministry, it will...
  •     Good advice for Pastors and Church leaders. Too many anecdotes. The chapters composed by Barbara were especially well written.
  •     Point: "...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) It is true. The idea of success is not mandated in Scripture, but faithfulness is. The minister must seek to be faithful to Him, His Word and the task He has given. That will result in true success. The negative of this is also true. "It is possible to be held up as a paragon of success and to receive the ardent accolades of one's people and be a failure." (36) How many in today's culture are heralded as "having arrived" yet will not be commended on that Judgment Day?Agreement: The focus which Hughes puts on prayer was especially challenging. This is an area which I struggle, apparently with many others as well. "Indeed, when God's servants candidly talk about their spiritual lives, a majority express guilt over their prayerlessness. This means that thousands are hacking away at their ministries with increasingly dull instruments that inevitably frustrate any possible success." (72) Prayer truly does sharpen us, and regretfully I find it so difficult to make time in the midst of school work, lesson preparation and event planning. E. Stanley Jones put it plainly when he made the comparison between prayer and throwing out an anchor and pulling oneself to shore. You do not pull the shore to you, you pull yourself to shore. The same it is with prayer. Our goal is not to twist God's arm in order to do our will, but to align our will with His.The author did a good job at confronting the dangerous view of success which has crept into many ministries. Not only did he delineate what true success is, he also laid out a plan by which one can encourage others, and where to find encouragement as well. I thought that the chapter on the pastor's wife was very helpful, and plan to have my wife read it. She often asks how she can better encourage me and the chapter did a good job at laying out some helpful ideas.Personal App: I found the book to be an interesting and helpful book. It was both convicted and reassuring. I hope that I will remember the principles given when the dark days come.It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.
  •     Although the Hughes' wrote this book decades ago, it is still timely, and I am glad they updated it! I cannot say much more without giving away parts of the book. GREAT!!!
  •     Have bought several copies of this book to share with younger pastors. It's recently been updated but is as relevant as the day it was first written and published.
  •     Good Book
  •     Many pastors and church leaders find themselves evaluating their ministries by corporate standards. As a result, if the church or ministry does not meet particular benchmarks they feel the ministry is unsuccessful.Kent Hughes has been a pastor for over four decades and he writes Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome for the pastor who is feeling this pressure. The book was originally published by Tyndale House in 1987 and has now been updated and republished last month by Crossway.Hughes recounts a scene from early on his ministry where he was working on a church plant. From all accounts this was going to be a successful ministry. Hughes was blessed with a clear demonstration of pastoral gifts, a solid core group, a promising social demographic, and financial backing. However, after a short period, Hughes was on the edge of despondency and ready to leave the ministry. He goes on to articulate the depths of despair that colored these early days of ministry: "My long-established world of bright prospects and success melted around me. I was in the darkest, deepest depression of my life. My memory of this time is of a gray, horizonless sea. A faint light falls from a threatening sky and I am treading water alone, sinking. Soon, I will be below the surface. Melodramatic, to be sure! But that is how I felt. I wanted out."For someone like myself who is in the process of church planting, this book is encouraging and sobering, while being very practical.Hughes goes on to describe the way in which the Lord brought him low only to bring him back up through prayer and dependence upon the God of the Scriptures. It was through this process of praying and reading that Hughes began to learn what ministry was all about. Thankfully he is now sharing his story of God's grace in his own life.The majority of the book is made up of defining what biblical success is. The successive chapters are, Success is...faithfulness, serving, loving, believing, prayer, holiness, attitude.Hughes is deeply transparent throughout the book. His wife Barbara occasionally and helpfully pops in to add her perspective during the times of trial and growth. Her presence in the book would be helpful for pastors' wives for sure.This would be a great book to pick up for a pastor who is feeling `beat up' in ministry. It would also be a great gift for a seminary student or young man who is pursuing ministry. Either way it is a helpful and biblical reminder of what matters and what does not. And Hughes has done it for over forty years.
  •     I am a pastor of a small church in a rural area and this book was an encouragement to me as well as a reminder of what success really looks like in the eyes of God. A timely and relevant message to Chrisitans who minister in churches of any size.

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