If only there was an easy answer to that question.
I've found that each "success" in minstry brings with it the realization that there is much more work to be done. For each baptism, knowing there are millions more unreached people in the city. For each life-changing sermon for one person, 10 others who were sleeping the whole time. For each conflict resolved, 1,000 more on the way. Success and the idea of a job well done and completed seems like an impossible dream.
With this in mind, I've found myself relying on one thing to make myself feel successful. In talking with other pastors and seeing them twittering and updating their facebook statuses they seem to have the same definition of success as well. What makes a pastor successful?
That's all we can end up relying on in the end. We see all the things that can and should be done. Our church members constantly come to us reminding us of all that is wrong with the church. So, we just take satisfaction in being busy. We can't do it all but at least I know I put in a 70 hour work week to do my part.
This definition of success is damaging, unhealthy, and reveals failure not success. Pastoral ministry will never be easy and always full of challenges and hard work. However, we also need to acknowledge that ultimately Jesus is the head of the church and the church will move on without all our busy activity.
One thing pastors need to remember is this: We aren't exempt from the Sabbath. Sure, we have responsibilities on Sabbath and it will always be a day of work for us. However, that means there should be another day where we rest from work and acknowledge Jesus is the head of the church and we can trust that He will lead it even without us.
To all the Pastors: Stop breaking the Sabbath principle. Stop being busy. Stop thinking you run the show and it can't go on without you.
To all the church members: Next time you see your pastor, ask him when the last time he took a day off was. Then insist that every week he takes a day to rest and experience the joy of Sabbath. Also, at the next board meeting get the leaders of the church to support the Pastor in doing this so everyone knows and will make it a reality.