We all feel it.
We look at people in our field of work, we look at other parents, other athletes and wish we had what they had. We want someone else’s career, their platform, notoriety, success.
But do we?
Why is that such a big deal?
The longer I think about this and talk to leaders who are frustrated with their lack of perceived success, and it really boils down to a question of contentment in calling.
Everywhere you look, you will see people more successful than you.
I don’t know. Sometimes it is talent; sometimes it is because that leader worked harder, sometimes it has nothing to do with that.
What We Don’t See
What we often miss though is the work they put in that we don’t see.
We don’t see the sacrifices, heartache, pain, relational or emotional or physical loss.
When a pastor sees a megachurch pastor speak at a conference, all they see is that pastor speaking. They don’t know the sacrifice that pastor made to lead, hone their speaking ability, or even God’s hand. They don’t see the sacrifice that pastor’s family has made all along the way.
We don’t see the scars, the online bashing they went through.
So we sit, longing for their platform, wishing for God to work in our life the way He has seemed to work in their life.
But it doesn’t.
We go back to our church, the one God has called us to be the pastor. We look out at 50, 200, 500 people that God has called us to love and we long for thousands.
And we’re bitter.
Our people feel it. Our leaders sense it.
And if leaders are not honest, our heart grows cold.
This frustration leads many leaders to burn out, to quit, to move to another church, to seek a more significant ministry. Why?
Not because God called them (although sometimes he does), but because they want to be known as more than they are.
I think a reason many leaders burnout is because they have picked up a calling that is not theirs.
It could be an associate pastor trying to be a lead pastor. A lead pastor of a church of 200 trying to be a lead pastor of 2,000; or a leader who is very strong in shepherding gifts trying to manufacture visionary or administrative gifts.
Left unchecked, this will not only destroy the leader but usually their ministry and family as well.
But the church, local and big C church miss out on who this leader is. We miss out on their calling and gifts.
Fulfill Your Calling [Be You]
This is why Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11 are so important: I have learned to be content.
It is essential to see what Paul says.
He once was not content, and he had to learn it.
Being content is something you’ll need to learn as a leader.
The desire for growth and effectiveness are not wrong or sinful. Desire in and of itself is not a sinful thing. It can be, but the desire is often where we find our calling.
But being content is something you will need to learn as a leader. Without it, many leadership missteps will take place. Many heartaches and sleepless nights await you. And, you will miss out on what God has for you and wants to do through you.
Josh Reich is the Lead Pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ. He is the area lead for Acts 29 in Arizona and speaks at a variety of conferences on church planting, leadership, and marriage. He is also the author of Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living More. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaReich.