Pastors, Stop Worshiping the Idol Called “Success”

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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.



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.



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?






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.




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


5 Responses to "Pastors, Stop Worshiping the Idol Called “Success”"
  • Jeff Kyzer October 14, 2013

    In an age where successful pastors are often measuring themselves against other successful pastors, focus can be taken off of Christ. Pastors can also start taking credit for God’s work.

    1 Cor 3:7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

    Identity needs to be found in Christ not in ministry success or failure.

    Great post!

  • Juanita October 14, 2013

    How freeing the grace of God is and how easy it is for Satan to trap us and keep is imprisoned. Thank you for this reminder… It really is all about Jesus…don’t get it twisted… 🙂

  • Chris October 29, 2013

    “Pastors, Stop Worshiping the Idol Called “Success”

    Yet you yourself, Pastor Gray, use this blog post in which you ward against worshiping the idol of success, to actively promote your own book.

    That idol accepts all sorts of tributes. Big, small, blatant and coy.

    • DerwinLGray October 31, 2013


      Did you read the blog? You have missed the message of this blog.

      I believe Limitless Life can transform lives, why would I not want people to read it?

      I want MY BOOK to be successful. And I want to be faithful to steward whatever God places before to do for His glory.

      Pastor Derwin

  • joshua chinagorom October 30, 2013

    Great hard lessons. Hope pastors will learn from it. The problem of the church today can be traced back to the ministers. And this post is a key point.

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