NASHVILLE – Michael Hyatt, chairman of Christian publishing company Thomas Nelson, urged Christian leaders Saturday that the increasingly secular U.S. climate can be an opportune time to share the Gospel message if they don't burn out.
Hyatt told The Christian Post, "I think this is the best time ever for ministry because any time you have a change going on – systemic change like we're seeing in our country – the contrast is so stark; the difference between black and white, the difference between right and wrong is very stark. And so this is a great time for people to be out there in the ministry. We really can make a difference and we can get noticed."
The ongoing debate about the U.S. Health and Human Services department's rule mandating faith-based organizations serving the public to provide insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacient drugs and sterilization services has heaped political scrutiny on religious conservatives.
So too has the discussion of same-sex marriage legislations in California, Washington, New Jersey and Maryland.
Many religious leaders and organizations have put a great deal of energy into speaking out and defending Christian beliefs concerning these issues. However, their efforts have yielded mixed results.
For instance, while 31 states passed marriage amendments, California's state Supreme Court overturned its marriage amendment. Washington state also recently became the seventh state to legally recognize gay marriage.
Christian and Catholic leaders have expressed disappointment with President Barack Obama's compromise to ask insurance companies to foot the bill for objecting religious companies.
Hyatt said during Saturday morning's keynote address that church leaders and clergy also experience failures and even burn out.
Quoting a past New York Times article, Hyatt said, "The clergy now are experiencing even greater results of burn out, obesity, of discouragement and many of those negative effects. In fact, they have the second highest divorce rate among professionals in the country."
During his keynote address, Hyatt encouraged leaders to rest, reflect and take time to cultivate relationships and creative hobbies.
Later he told CP that leaders must also face the fact that they may not always be successful.
"Ultimately you can't judge your faithfulness by your results because the results are not always going to be there. You can look at all the Old Testament prophets, many of them didn't see any result even though they preach faithfully, they were faithful to God, and yet the people turned a deaf ear to them. So ultimately I think you got to get your approval from God," said Hyatt.
He concluded, "God doesn't call us to be successful; he does call us to faithful."