037 Do you have success sickness? An interview with best-selling author, Patrick Morley

What happens when one looks looks in the mirror and doesn’t see what he sees? In 1985 Patrick Morley did just that and found that success had made him sick. He joins us on this episode to tell us his story of discovery and recovery.

Do you have success sickness? An interview with best-selling author, Patrick Morley

Dr. Patrick Morley is no stranger to success. In the ’80s he built a successful and prominent commercial real-estate enterprise in Orlando, FL. Now, he is founder and co-CEO of Man in the Mirror, a discipleship ministry he began after taking a deep and personal look in his own mirror.

The insights he gained from that inner examination culminated in the publication of the book, The Man in the Mirror, which went on to sell more than three million copies. On October 7th, the revised and updated 25th anniversary edition of that book will be released.

In this episode Leary and Armin talk with Pat about the origins of that book, how he overcame the grip of success sickness and how he transitioned from business to ministry.

Pat has long been inspired by this quote from Hudson Taylor which he offered in this episode’s Inspire Me segment:

“Many Christians estimate difficulties in light of their own resources and thus attempt little, and often fail at the little they do attempt. All God’s giants have been people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence being with them.”

Pat reminds us that God uses flawed men. That’s by design for He knows we’re all flawed and He wants us to rely on Him and not our own strength. That means our vision also needs to be bigger than ourselves. “Make no little plans,” Pat quoted Daniel Burnham, “they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

When the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was passed by Congress, commercial property valuations plummeted and with it Pat’s confidence in his commercial real-estate business success. Commitments to investors loomed large, only surpassed by Pat’s persistent worry. Reading Matthew 13:22, Pat knew he was the “one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Through that experience, God opened Pat’s eyes to see that he was pursuing worldly gain. He was a materialist, behaving morally but not biblically. He was trying to love God and love money and it clearly wasn’t working. Pat described his condition as success sickness—a disease of always wanting more and not being happy when you get it.

During this time, Pat began to share the insights he was learning with a group of men in the Orlando area. Their response to his candid observations encouraged Pat to begin to write about the 24 problems men face, which culminated in writing The Man in the Mirror and the eventual transition into full-time ministry.

For those contemplating transition from business into ministry, Pat offers three insights:

  1. Transition is going to take time. It took six years for Pat (1985 – 1991). So, instead of jumping right in, conduct small experiments first. Think of it as a relay race with a slow handing off of the baton.
  2. Ministry will be difficult. If you had one bad day a week in business, expect two in ministry.
  3. You’re still going to be the same person. You don’t suddenly change by going into ministry. Sure, you will grow, but you’re still you and you bring all of that to your new role.

For this episode’s Challenge Me, Pat shared a thought that he had in the midst of his crumbling business: “There is a God we want and there is a God who is. They are not the same God. And the turning point in our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is.” The challenge is to seek that God—the one Who is.

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