Pastors, Stop Worshiping the Idol Called 'Success'

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(Photo: Screen grab/Liberty University)Derwin Gray, founder and pastor of Transformation Church and author of "Limitless Life" speaks to 10,000 students at Liberty University's convocation in Lynchburg, Va., on Sept. 6, 2013.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

God, the Papa, blessed me by allowing me to see that the idol called success over-promises and under delivers. Not only does the idol called success under-deliver, idolatry is also disfigures our hearts.

At the age of 25, I was a team captain on the Indianapolis Colts. I had money, a beautiful wife, and things I didn't even know I was allowed to even dream about. I was successful according to America. Yet success couldn't fix what I needed fixed most, my heart.

My heart longed for love unconditional, beauty, satisfaction, and rest. Success was supposed bring me these things, but it didn't.

Pastoral Idolatry 

Sadly, a whole bunch of pastors are worshiping the idol called "success." In our hearts, we whisper to ourselves:

"If my church gets bigger, I'll be successful."

"If I get that book deal with the huge advance, I'll be successful".

"If I speak at all the big conferences, I'll be successful."

"If I can just get the cool people to attend my church, I'll be successful."

The consequence of worshiping the idol called success is that we hurt people, destroy our marriages, prostitute people, and drag the Name of Jesus through the mud.

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A Little Help From Madonna 

Pop star Madonna describes the seduction of success in her own words:

"I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I'm mediocre and uninteresting. Again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that's always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I've become Somebody, I still have to prove that I'm Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.' (Lynn Hirshberg, "The Misfit," Vanity Fair, April 1991, Volume 54, Issues 4, pp. 160-169, 196-202.)

I wonder how many pastors feel the same way?

Set Your Heart on the Epic Success of Jesus 


As pastors, like all blood-ransomed sons and daughters of God, we bring heavy baggage filled with sin, hurt, and inadequacies to our vocation. And if we're not careful we'll try to self-medicate our hurts through ministry success instead of in Jesus, and His unsearchable riches.


We focus too much on our failures (despair) and success (pride) instead of the EPIC success of Jesus on our behalf.

Jesus is our success. God the Father attributes all of Jesus success to us because we are "in" Christ. To be in Christ means that all that Jesus accomplishments have been accredited to us as a free gift. Jesus is our success.

We serve from a heart that's satisfied in Jesus and accepted by God the Father, instead of a heart trying to be satisfied in ministry success and trying to be accepted by God the Father.


Early in my faith journey with Jesus, I came across a book entitled, The Search for Significance by Robert McGee. Then I read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero, and recently Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp. And I've recently written a book entitled, Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God's Holds Your Future. Click here to learn more about Limitless Life. These books are great resources. I've taken the Transformation Church staff through three of them.

What Ministry Succss?

True ministry success is found in being faithful to steward the Gospel, your calling, and walk with the Spirit so closely that we lavish everyone we meet with His fruit (Galatians 5:22-24).

Marinate on that,

Pastor Derwin