Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome

By Kent and Barbara Hughes
Wheaton : Tyndale House (1987). 204 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Richard Mayhue
1.2 (Fall 1990) : 210-211

Anyone in the ministry who has grappled with depression and/or perceived failure will identify with Kent and Barbara Hughes's diary of trying times in ministry. Currently pastoring College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, Kent, along with his wife, Barbara, chronicle their expectation of outward success in ministry that ran aground in the shoal waters of unexpected ministry reversals. After following all the pragmatic principles of church-growth experts with their promise of success, they discovered that their flock had dwindled rather than grown.

They write candidly about unbiblical hopes that almost caused them to leave the ministry. In the midst of despair, they reconsidered "the book" on ministry, Scripture. In a down-to-earth style, they tell of their redefinition of success (chaps. 3-10) and the sources of their encouragement (chaps. 11-15) that helped lift them to sustaining levels of joy and a more biblical definition of ministerial fruitfulness.

Particularly good are helps from the pastor's wife and the congregation that complete their discussion. This is must reading. While the book may have its greatest use as preventative, for those already in "the slough of despond" it could be a lifesaver.