A Sobering Reality for Pastors and Leaders 


The longer you do what you do well, the less praise you’ll receive for it.

There is a sobering reality every pastor and leader needs to understand. Knowing this one can protect your career – help keep you from burning out – and guard your heart. 

I see this impact leaders from all generations – but, I must be honest – I probably see it even more in our youngest generation of leaders entering the workforce. 

You ready for the sobering reality? 

The longer you do what you do well the less praise you’ll receive for it. 

Have you experienced it? If you don’t understand this principle you’ll often feel disappointed – like no one cares – like they didn’t even notice the good work you are doing. 

The fact is everyone loves to praise the new guy – the guest appearance – the surprise home run. 

(One of my favorite examples – the guest speaker who has delivered the same message 42 times and has gotten really good at it. Everyone says “best sermon ever”. Of course – they have practiced it a few times.) 

But, when you’ve been there a while – when you try to do well every week – when you hit home runs almost every time up to bat – people stop cheering as loudly. 

Once you do "exceptional" for a very long time,  it becomes the new norm. 

It’s expected. It is now your new average. Everyone expects you to be wonderful – every time. They’ve gained a certain confidence in your ability. 

And, you can naturally expect to hear less approval. Less “good jobs”. Less “that was amazing” comments. 

It’s not necessarily you aren’t doing a good job anymore. You’ve simply set a new bar of expectation. 

Of course, part of improving is to continually raise our own bar of expectations, but if you’re realizing this sobering reality – you’ve done something right. 

And, for that – I must say – Congratulations! 

I intend this post to be an encouragement, but also to serve as a warning of sorts. 

The quietness of the new norm can make you think you’re no longer appreciated. If you’re not careful, you’ll begin to doubt your abilities or the success you are still having. 

Those emotions – and the reactions to them – are normal, even if they aren’t true. 

I’m not ignoring times when you aren’t doing your best. Don’t be an unaware leader. 

I’m not trying to convince you not to be normal. That would be abnormal of me. 

I am encouraging you to seek your affirmation beyond the verbal praise of man. 

I am saying if you live for the praise of others, you’ll eventually be controlled by their praise (or lack thereof). 

And I am reminding you – you may be doing everything right, but seldom hear all the good you’re doing. 

This is part of leadership. And, the leader who can lead just as passionately towards a noble goal, without the praise of others – even perhaps in times when criticism seems more dominant – is on track for success.

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