Taking a six-month Sabbath slowed me down a lot, forcing me to pay attention to the negative personal narrative I’d been carrying around my entire life, and then God used the quiet interlude to confront me with some important and painful realizations. First, I realized that I had a self-centered definition of “success.” To me, success was achieving “rock star” status as an evangelical pastor. I wanted to prove my abilities by bringing in the big bucks, bringing in a big mass of bodies, building big buildings, and producing great praise from other pastoral peers who admired (who am I kidding? I, like many pastors, wanted them to be jealous) of my work. Second, I realized I’d completely failed to achieve my version of success. It was hard to swallow the fact that my entire ministry career proved I simply didn’t have what it took to be an evangelical rock star.
Even more painful, by far, was the realization that I didn’t have what it would take to leave my sick definition of success behind, to heal from my own negative personal narrative, and then live differently. Up to that point in my life I prided myself on my ability to assess what was going on inside of me, and then find the right approach to fix it. It was hard to face the fact that I’d failed to “succeed.” It was even harder to realize that the definition of success I’d loved for so many years, was actually all wrong. It was deeply painful to hear my wife say, “You’re so lost in your pain right now that I don’t know how to help you anymore. We need to get you some help.” It was hardest of all when I had to swallow my pride, take all of my failure, and then sit down in my brokenness with a counselor where I had to confess, “I’m finding out that I don’t have what it takes.” You’re not alone in failing to accomplish your version of success. The first step towards wholeness is admitting you don’t really have what it takes to be a “success.”