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Success - What is it?

Success. How do we measure it? How do we know if we are successful or not? What criteria should we use to determine success?

In the next couple of blog articles, I want to tackle the issue of success. In doing so, in no way am I trying to say that we should not do our best at whatever we do. 1 Cor. 10:31 tells us that no matter what we do, we are to do it for the glory of God. At the same time, I do believe that we, in some instances (and we do this in churches and organizations), determine our success based on numbers or by some other criteria that has been established.

I understand that organizations, to exist, must keep moving forward. I have also discovered, though, that we tend to - because it is easy to get into the comparison game - determine our success by what someone else is doing.

Let me explain. As a pastor, and someone who has been in ministry for 37 or 38 years (I have lost count), I have served in different areas of fulltime service. I have also pastored or been on staff of churches that were well above the national average when it came to church attendance, and some would consider those “successful” if the amount of bodies in the seat was what counted the most.

But I have learned, or have come to my own conclusion, that success, as defined in our culture, may not be quite the same as God sees it. We can work hard at something, and yet not see “big numbers.” We can be faithful at following what God wants us to do and not have thousands connected to our organization. Would God view that as a failure? I think we need to re-think our definition of success.

First, I think faithfulness is something that needs to be considered. It is not always easy to measure faithfulness. I know churches and organizations, businesses, and individuals, that work hard, are faithful to what God has led them to do, and yet, they don’t see the numerical success that someone else may be experiencing.

Does that make them a failure? Or less successful than someone else? I would be careful to go down that road. Speaking only for my career path, pastors sometimes measure success by church attendance or how much the offerings are, how many ministries are in the church, etc., etc.

We should do our best. We should be faithful. We should try to invest in lives and keep on moving forward.

Having said that, not only does faithfulness need to be considered, but there is a very important point that needs to be stressed – that being that God is a Sovereign God. That means He is in control of everything.

I cannot explain why this church or that church, this organization or that one, are at different points as far as growth, etc. I do know that God calls us to be faithful, and He is the One Who is watching us to see if we are willing to be faithful.

When it comes to growth in Christian organizations, we can do all kinds of things to draw crowds, raise cash, etc. But I believe God calls us to be faithful, to teach the truth, reach out and then give the results to Him.

Maybe God measures success, not so much by the numbers, but by the faithfulness He sees in His followers.

Revelation 3 in Scripture introduces us to a church in the ancient city of Philadelphia. In our next blog we will look at this group of people, who possibly not very big in size or influence, from an outside view, were impacting people in the city in which God had put them. We will see their faithfulness and see what Jesus had to say to them.

May God richly bless you all. What I have shared in this blog is something that I have been thinking about for some time. I want to encourage those reading this to be faithful to what God has called us to do and allow Him to work through our faithfulness as He sees fit.


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