Am I Good Enough to Lead a Church?


I sat in a conference room. Around the table were church planters and trainers who had years of experience, vast reserves of wisdom and insight, and Spirit-filled gifts to bring the Scriptures to their culture. I sat in awe, soaking up every last detail.

But in the back of my mind, I wondered if I belonged.

This is one challenge of planting a church—you are exposed to the world of churchmanship’s best practices: there are books, blogs, mentors, conferences, seminars, and intensives which all aim to guide you into leading your church better. And while it can all be very helpful, it can also make one feel perpetually inadequate.

  • Am I competent?

  • Am I sufficient?

  • Am I adequate?

While these questions have probably always lurked below the waterline of my heart, planting a church has brought them to the surface. As they’ve weighed heavier and heavier, I’ve witnessed a peculiar response in myself. Because I don’t like exploring those big, brooding depths, I’d rather translate them into more measurable questions about how my church and I function:

  • Do I know what contextual ministry in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne is?

  • Have I developed a sharp ministry design?

  • Am I creating a positive culture within the church?

  • Do I have a clear, strategic vision to move the church forward?

I could go on. There are endless questions on function. The danger is that they obscure the real question: “Am I good enough?”

But having to face this question isn’t a problem of having too much training. It is a problem of the heart. The reality is that I won’t excel in all areas of church planting or pastoral ministry. I’m not strategic enough; I’m not visionary enough; my capacity to take on the challenges of ministry isn’t high enough.

“But Jesus is enough!”

That’s my knee-jerk response. And Jesus is enough. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he will make me a dynamic people person, incredibly insightful about pastoral care, a sharp strategic operator, or a compelling visionary.

You see, the problem of my heart is that I want to be good enough. I know Jesus is enough, but when I get below the surface, I’d rather derive my joy, satisfaction, and significance from being a competent leader than being a child of the king.

Talk about a horrible exchange.

That disordered love is simply me striving to be square with my Creator, which is ultimately the pursuit of my own selfishness. The more I serve God out of a deep desire to be good enough, the more I actually serve myself.

I desperately need to return to the gospel daily, experience the great exchange again, and taste the free gift of grace anew. I don’t need to be good enough, because I can’t be good enough.

Isn’t this the gospel we proclaim? That we have less to offer than we could ever know, but in Jesus, more to give than we could ever imagine? Jesus may not make me the sharpest ministry leader, but he will supply grace upon grace to my wandering heart.

As ministers of the gospel, can we offer our measly best, knowing that in our frailty, failure, and lack, Christ will be exalted and lifted high? Can we not only point people to Christ, but gaze upon him ourselves? Can we not only preach a total and desperate dependence on God, but let that be true of our hearts as well?

I want to pray like the apostle Paul that I approach ministry in weakness, trembling, and fear, knowing nothing and preaching nothing and leading to nothing but Christ and his crucifixion.

Does that mean I do away with the training, the experience, wisdom, and expertise of others? No way! It means I don’t idolize other people, other churches, or my own ability to live up to these standards — I worship Christ and strive to point others to my Lord.


About the Author

Mark Tibben is the Executive Minister at Sojourners Church in Melbourne, Australia.

Mark Tibben