Surviving Success

 Most of the time we are concerned about a new church plant not succeeding. Failure is a real possibility and no one wants to fail but sometimes it does happen. We never consider the dangers of a new church plant being a success but here are reasons we should beware of things going well.

            Trials and struggles keep us humble and often teach us the greatest lessons of life. Someone has said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The Apostle Paul described the struggles of the ministry well when he taught the Romans “tribulation worketh patience.” And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; — Romans 5:3.  Some of our greatest lessons rise from the despair of struggles. Even the chastening hand of God can be used for our benefit, just like the time of Joseph when he stated clearly that through his trials God meant it for good. Even Paul testified that his thorn in the flesh kept him from being lifted up with pride “lest he be exalted above measure.” “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”  2 Corinthians 12:7.  Tribulation and trials, though sometimes difficult to bear can bring forth our greatest fruit and blessings for the good of God.

            Trials can be a blessing but we all want to be successful. We strive for success but there are times when success is accompanied with certain temptations and dangers. Success usually does not build character in us. The truth is it is much harder gain strength through victory that it is through defeat. Not only does success not develop character but there are many ways in which we may be subject to temptation and pride. If, when starting a church, large group of people are found that want to start a church and many of them are mature believers it may actually hinder the new pastor from working as hard as he would have worked to get the church established. A spirit of complacency could easily develop. A sense of pride could develop and Satan could enter into the fellowship to cause division and disruption.

            If starting a church is easy the preacher may assume everyone should be able to duplicate what he did. Any success a church planter may have is a result of the blessing of God and if it comes too easily the preacher may soon think he did it himself. I’ve heard more than one seasoned preacher state that one of the ingredients to make a man of God strong is “trouble.” Success is great and we all strive for it but if starting a church comes too easily, when trouble comes the preacher may not be prepared for it. Satan can destroy a preacher that lets down his guard. Sadly, there are men who are no longer in the ministry, some of whom seemed to have a growing and successful ministry. If the new church plant is going well give praise to God and remember trouble is not far behind so don’t be surprised when it comes. If you are experiencing a difficult trial, remember that your greatest teacher is tribulation.

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