If you’re anything like me, you never get jealous at the success of other ministry leaders. You are always content with the realm of ministry God has allotted you and have no desire to attain the reach and influence of the
megalomaniac megachurch pastor down the street.
Who are we kidding?
One of the most discouraging things for a faithful pastor to see is the seeming success of ministry leaders who are not men of integrity. These are people who twist God’s Word. They strut themselves before their congregations as though they were kings. They build a tiny Christian empire on gimmicks and inch-deep teaching. But why does God allow their ministry to prosper?
I am by no means saying that every megachurch pastor is a false teacher—there is not some correlation between church size and faithfulness—but sometimes it seems like some of the most well-funded and well-attended congregations are shallow and gospel-less. Why is it that these wicked egomaniac teachers—men who lead precious souls astray with false gospels and man-exalting sermonettes—seem to be so blessed with church attendance, ministry funds, and volunteers?
What are we doing wrong?
Why doesn’t God seem to bless our faithful ministry like He does theirs?
You Are Not Alone
When you feel this way, the first thing to recognize is that you are not alone. The Psalmist lamented, “How long shall the wicked, O Lord, How long shall the wicked exult? They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves” (Psalms 94:3–4). And the prophet Jeremiah inquired of God, “…I would discuss matters of justice with Thee: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?” (Jeremiah 12:1).
This seemingly topsy-turvy economy of the wicked prospering is evident in every sphere of life. The rude, the arrogant, and the obnoxious run the world. Look no further than our current election. Sadly, this is the case in much of the Christian world as well. Wolves in sheep’s clothing draw the masses, while the numbers in the churches of faithful expositors dwindle. How should a pastor respond?
Fretfulness or Faithfulness
We have a choice. When we see the prosperity of the unfaithful and the wicked ministry leaders in our city, we have a choice.
David saw the choice clearly, and in Psalm 37 he warned against choosing fretfulness over faithfulness. In verse 1 he says, “Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.” We can choose to wring our hands over the apparent success of men who have adulterated the Word of God, but we must be more heavenly minded than that. David goes on to point out, “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.”
Taking the long view, we know that despite their apparent success now, they are destined for destruction. Scripture insists that we choose faithfulness instead of fretfulness. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (v. 3). The end of the path of faithfulness is not superficial and temporary success, but true blessing. “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (v. 4).
Watch For Compromise
There is real danger in fixing your eyes on the prosperity of compromised pastors—namely, it leads to us compromising. In verse 8 David says, “fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
The green road of jealously and vain-ambition in ministry leads only to compromise. In the end the wicked receive their due, and those who prostitute their pulpits for the world’s acclaim will have to own their self-idolatry before the King of Kings. What fools are we if waste our precious moments envying the damned? There is nothing to be gained from that. Besides, it is not as if the Lord is shortchanging us.
There Will Be a Reckoning
It is true that much of the Evangelical world blindly follows deceitful schemers who, presuming godliness is a means of gain, have fallen prey to the deceitfulness of riches (1 Tim 6:5; Mark 4:19; Matt 13:22). But this will not always be the case. These men will not always prosper, nor will they reign.
There will be a reckoning.
Our Lord quoted Psalm 37:11 in the Sermon on the Mount “the meek will inherit the Earth” (Matt 5:5). In speaking of ministers, it is the humble, faithful pastor—the one who labors diligently and quietly in this present age—who will reign in the age to come. You don’t have to be a type-A control freak narcissist to be a successful leader in Christ’s church. The biblical requirements of eldership actually preclude such brash ruffians (see 1 Tim 1:6 and Titus 1:7, 10–11).
Content yourself with whatever God entrusts to you. Commit your way to the Lord. Stop envying the temporary success of false teachers, “And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday” (Psalms 37:6). Besides, “Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked” (v. 16).
So pastors, let us be faithful. Let us be humble. Let us wait patiently for our inheritance.