How Being Average Helped Me in Church Planting

Published Oct 23, 2020

by Micaiah Irmler | Lead Pastor, Southridge Church

We often hear people say that planting a church is “not for the faint of heart. It’s the front lines of ministry. Make sure you’re strong.” Words like this, although well-meant, have left me feeling frustrated and doubtful of my calling, and have made me want to quit more times than I care to admit. 

The truth is I am weak. I am average. I am mediocre at best. And that is okay. It wasn’t until I accepted my shortcomings that I understood the truth of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As long as I thought that I was strong or had to be strong, I was inadvertently hindering the very thing I needed the most. With God, I don’t need to be strong. I need God to be strong for me. It is not my power, but His power. 

We struggle not with admitting we’re weak, but with allowing ourselves to appear weak. 

Most leaders can attest that it’s one thing to be able to say we are weak but it’s entirely more difficult to show we are weak. If given the chance we avoid it at all costs, setting ourselves up for failure because of the tremendous pressure.

Dealing with the pressure of ministry is more difficult than dealing with the pains of ministry. This pressure used to be something that would strike me out of nowhere. We are often blindsided of this pressure, as it is typically brought on by a phone call from an upset church member or a critical letter. 

Personally, it was often the pressure to write a powerful sermon, grow the building fund and attend every church families’ event all while maintaining the perfect marriage and raising children that could be mistaken as angels from above and not demons from below. 

Every pastor, church planter and leader deals with pressure. After many years, I have finally nailed down exactly which kind of pressure I’m dealing with. Whether it be my church family or my actual family, I feel the pressure to please.Whether it be writing powerful sermons or growing the church, I feel the pressure to perform. Whether it be running my social accounts, attending conferences or meeting with fellow leaders, I feel the pressure to be polished. 

Pressure isn’t going anywhere, so neither should you or I. Owning my own average has been freeing and refreshing. Upon admitting my weakness, pressure no longer treated me like a prisoner. If pressure is a prison, then we’re all trying to escape. Once pressure becomes a platform, we embrace it. In practice, I don’t need the perfect idea, I simply need some idea and a means to execute it. I don’t have to be the best pastor, I just have to pastor. I don’t have to meet every need, I just have to meet the needs within my reach. Sometimes a sermon isn’t perfectly polished because I was at the hospital comforting a family that lost a child, visiting families that lost a job or even because I chose to wrestle with my kids and do the dishes for my wife. 

Once I owned my average, I found it easier to be creative, flexible and walk in God’s power. The fear of failure is greatly lessened if not gone altogether. 

Adrian Rogers once said, “I’ve seen a lot of men too big for God to use but I’ve never met a man too small for God to use.” 

Give yourself permission to be weak and put God in the position to be strong!