Yes, The Numbers Affect Me
I think I will stop looking at social media on Saturday nights. A few weeks ago I was perusing the feeds and noticed something that created a high level of anxiety in me. There were a lot of folks from the church I serve who were on vacation and were not going to be in church in the morning. They were at the lake. The mountains. The beach. Some far-away place that looked enticing on the social media feed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fault anyone for going on vacation and enjoying family time and developing the bonds that go with it! In fact, I think people ought to have more focused downtime with their families. And I’m not jealous; my family takes some great vacations ourselves. No, what caused the anxiety is the realization that “The Numbers” were likely going to be down on Sunday. And for some reason that always impacts me…
Pastors, let’s face it; our ego, our self-worth, our self-esteem is often contingent on the numbers. Worship attendance goes up and we feel great about ourselves. Worship attendance goes down and we are in the dumps. Finances are good and we are good. Finances are bad and we are bad. This same tendency will follow baptisms, professions of faith, etc . . . Now of course we need to be aware of the numbers and what they mean for the church we lead. We should not stick our head in the sand and pretend there is nothing to be concerned about. But we should not find our worth in the numbers either. In fact, I believe doing so inhibits our ability to see the solutions God will provide for the challenges we face.
So how do we keep our egos from being impacted by the numbers? Remember who, and Whose, you are!
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:14–17 NLT-SE)
I turn to the above passage when I need to be reminded of who and Whose I am. Here is what I see in this passage that helps refocus me:
1. I can rely on the Holy Spirit to lead through these challenges.
2. I have no reason to fear.
3. I am a Child of God and not just an organizational leader.
4. I, together with Christ, am an heir of God’s glory.
5. Suffering may happen, but God will not abandon me!
Where do you turn when times get tough?
How do you maintain an appropriate level of ‘self-worth’ when the numbers take a downturn?
What passages speak to you in difficult seasons of life and ministry?
Who do you lean on during those times?
My hope and prayer is that we will all find that deep intimacy with Christ; the reliance upon the Holy Spirit, and a renewed passion for ministry that will carry us through every potential downturn of numbers!
Grace and Peace, Rich