Are You Successful In Ministry Or In Life?

1 Corinthians 11:1 – Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

We live in an age that loves to measure external results. I have to admit that I am a ‘results-oriented leader’. I set goals: Numbers of churches planted, total amounts of dollars given, numbers of new small groups launched, guests who attended, etc, etc.

Actually, I think it is extremely important to measure. Organizationally, it helps motivate action and change. It clarifies the problems that need to be addressed. It assists us in determining if we are taking the proper course of action. We can see if we are deploying people, finances, gifts, time and energy in the right places or if there needs to be some type of change.

But metrics that evaluate external or numeric progress can never be enough for the spiritual leader, the follower of Christ. Ultimately, the goal of every Christian spiritual leader has to be conformity to the character, nature, and lifestyle of Jesus. In a sense, it is possible to reach external ministry and organizational goals and yet fail in the greatest aim which is becoming more like Christ.

We have seen that story play itself out over and over again. Ministry success does not necessarily indicate spiritual success. Remember the warning that Jesus gave in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.'”
Actually, I see two extremes that I want to personally try to avoid:

#1 – Tendency To Excuse Poor Ministry Results – some who are ineffective, lazy, or negative carry an attitude that, ‘if something is big, attractive, growing, and successful – it must be impure and somehow be compromising the gospel. Because everyone who is truly holy is defeated and small like me.’

#2 – Tendency To Equate Growing MInistry Results – some who are doing well numerically, and growing in every way can assume, ‘I could not be doing all of this if somehow I was not leading the way in the way that I follow Christ. My success must sanctify my arrogance, greed, and compromise.’

I think the goal has to be this:

First of all, to be a passionate imitator of Jesus in our character. We want to model humility, meekness, honor, joy, diligence, and passion for God’s presence.

Second, we want to be an obedient leader who displays a desire to be the best we can be. Evaluating and being ruthless when it comes to evaluating ministry effectiveness and performance. Refusing to be negative, lazy, or excuse-oriented. Trying to win as many as we can for Christ.

But if I have to choose, I choose the first. I would rather fail in my pursuit of ministry growth and succeed in imitating Jesus, than succeed in ministry success and fail as a follower of Christ.

Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Kat Kelley