Kent and Barbara Hughes’ book titled Liberating Ministry from Success Syndrome is unique in its content. It combines biblical, anecdotal and practical aspect. This religious biblical publication stress on a lifetime of ministry experience to adjust his readers’ understanding of success in ministry. The book is Kent Hughes own experience. He writes as one whose understanding of success underwent immense transformation. Majority of his readers are aware of his years of service as a preacher of the College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, but fewer know of his early experience as pastor of a small faithful in southern California. In the book, the Hughes writes honestly and frankly about those early years.
A masterpiece in conservative evangelical literature, Liberating Ministry has been in book shelves for over fifteen years. It’s written with a personal and pastoral tone that is familiar and applicable to both pastors and church members. I initially read the book as a faithful at a traditional Christian college that far isolated from the predominant “mega-church” approach of the nineties which the publication seems to be addressing. Yet I was and continue to be awed by the design the Hughes go after the heart.
For example, the Hughes enumerates the example of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan lady at the water source in order to make the point that we must at all costs pursue faithfulness. In his complacency it would have been so easy for him to say, ‘I’ve been preaching to thousands. I need time to rest. I’ll just keep my eyes closed and assume her.’ Not Jesus! He pursued her soul in one of the most beautiful example of gracious aggression in all of Scripture. He continued to preach when necessary.
Church ministers who have rejected a realistic, church-growth approach may be tempted to think they have a concrete grasp of what success in ministry entails. Yet the Hughes goes above the norms and ideals to project at the motivations of such leaders anyway. I read Liberating Ministry many years ago and agreed with it then. Still, rereading it now made me to see afresh how my sinful heart gently persuades me to misconceive of success in ministry. The book doesn’t demand to be a wholistic behavior of the literary forces motivating wrong outlook of ministry success. Hughes remembers a sight from early on his service for where he was entrusted in working on a church factory. From all perspectives, this would become a flourishing ministry.
According to the book, Hughes was endowed with a clear demonstration of pastoral talents, a strong center group, a talented social population, and economic backing. Conversely, after a short episode, he found himself on the edge of hopelessness and set to run off the ministry. He proceeds to expound on the depths of despondency that tinted this initial era of ministry:
There are a variety of issues I think could use some tweaking. They might have given a broader treatment of the need of prayer, especially appreciating success when supplications look as if to go unreturned. They also may either have given the section on sacredness chastity another meaning. It focused on sexual chastity, or they might have given a broader treatment of personal holiness beyond the sexual arena.
A little more importantly, the book seems to suggest that its readers rightly understand and know how to use the gospel. So the Hughes offers an excellent meaning of success, which dwells on the seven characteristics of faithfulness, serving, loving, holiness, and attitude. But at the basis of incorrect understanding of success in ministry is an inbuilt contortion of misuse of the sacred teachings. Possibly the argument could have commenced there and after that graduated to these well-selected qualities.
Lastly, the Hughes stake of mind-set seems to compare joy along with hope with sanguinity. For example, they narrate; that there is a sense in which ‘attitude is everything’. Our doctors back this notion as when they tell us again that an elevated percentage of ailments come to play through the individuals having unhealthy thoughts and approaches. The effect of optimistic mental approach entails other scopes and not bound only to medicine. Nowadays ‘attitude’ is virtually a sports cliché.
It’s correct that an optimistic approach is helpful, but there is a variation between an optimistic approach and holy scriptural hope and bliss. One is a paranormal gift of the Holy Ghost, and the other is not. That way, it is probable for every Christian service man to struggle the whole time of his days with a reduced hopeful point of view and still maintain hope given by way of the Holy Ghost. It’s also plausible for a confident human being not to carry on the journey by faith.
Hughes proceeds to explain the manner in which the Lord abased him only to shoot him back up via prayer and reliance upon the Supernatural Being of the Holy Scriptures. It was by means of this practice of getting to God every time and studying His scriptures that Hughes commenced to understand what serving the Creator was entailed. The stress which he devotes on praying to God was in particular demanding. This is a region which I put great effort, in fact, with a lot others in addition. “Without a doubt, when our Creator’s servants unequivocally give an account on their devout lives, a mainstream express guiltiness over their failure to prayerful lives. This has the meaning that multitudes are chopping away at their service ministries with more and more monotonous instruments that without doubt discourage any potential success.” Praying will and truly enlightens us each day, and disappointedly I most of the time find it so hard to set some time aside amidst school work, lecture preparation and event preparation.
E. Stanley Jones lays it forth plainly once he made the contrast between praying and lowering down the anchor onto land and helping oneself to the sea shore. One pulls himself to shore instead of the shore he is aiming being pulled towards him. Prayers work the same manner; praying draws us nearer to our God rather than us pulling Him to ourselves. Our aim isn’t to arm twist our God’s so that to make him do our will, but instead we aim at aligning our wishes with His.
The writer did a superior job at dealing with the treacherous view of victory which has by stealth found a place in many ministries. He not only describes what proper success means, but also demonstrated explicitly a plan that one can use to admonish those around him, and the place to find this encouragement in addition. Nevertheless, shaping success is complicated for the reason that the criterion for use in measuring success differ in relation to different areas of life. The outcome for use of a wrong criterion to measure success for an area of life for which it is not designed will produce wrong results.
In this useful text, The Hughes, (a collective effort of Mr. and Mrs. Hughes), efforts to react to the dimension of pastoral accomplishment by comparing the magnitude of numbers. That is, manifested by the number of followers behind each minister. In an exceptionally sincere account of the experience by selves, the Hughes narrates the chronicle of feeling like those without any hope of success at their tender age of service in the ministry for diminishing church plant. This despondency forced them to search the Biblical form of victory which in that case proved useful to them and consequently produced their book as a help to others in desperate need of this precious revelation.
In eight simply readable chapters, they help us understand the stance of the Bible on the Biblical victory. According to their book the Bible takes Biblical success as truthfulness, helping, adoring, believing, prayerfulness, godliness and attitude. These chapters are subsequently followed by chapters engineered to cheer the minister, the minister’s wife and flocks to be victorious.
I found the book extremely helpful. Many times most Christians are erroneously interested in assessing the magnitude of numbers to gauge success. This habitually ends up in discouragement to selves and a lot others since they end up terming some works fruitless while God would see success in them.
I would recommend that all ministers comprehend this book. I would also recommend that each and every Christian study at least the texts putting forth success and texts on how to hearten their minister –this translates to overflowing blessings to him.