Success

What is Success and in particular, what is success in ministry?

Having lived most of my life in full-time missionary & pastoral ministry I can now reflect upon life from the tail end of the journey.

I have come to that place where I see things from a relaxed and non competitive environment.

The reason I address this issue of ‘What is Success’ is because I notice so many colleagues in ministry particularly the younger ones, are comparing themselves subconsciously to others whom they deem as “successful” and worse still try and emulate them!

Looking back over my life time, to some extent I did the same!

Sadly I have seen some men & women start out in service thinking of themselves more highly than they ought.

Some have met bitter disappointment when their dream of success didn’t happen as they thought it would.

Others have become bitter and has taken years to recover from it and some even going to the grave feeling they have failed.

While driving in my car the other day this old song came to mind which Betty & I used to sing together.

Take a pause and listen to the lyrics of this little chorus that we used to sing before you read on.

They see that to be successful one must be winning thousands of souls to Christ and pastoring big or “mega” churches as they like to call them.

Some get caught up in prideful ambition and try and make it happen by taking over other churches in the name of “God” and calling them “Campuses”. 

In some cases, selling off historic property for what I call “dirty money” to build a mega structure elsewhere.

To some extent leaders of yesteryear, (and I was one of them) have given that impression and unintentionally so, that to be successful you must pastor a large church!

In so doing we have unintentionally cultivated a worldly culture, of what it means to be successful in ministry!

One only needs to look at Church conferences and see the political posturing that ‘innocently’ takes place, as leaders talk about their successes!

Dignifying the VIP culture amongst church leadership has also crept into the Church.

Not once in the Bible does God call us to be a success in ministry, yet He does link the act of faithfulness to success.

The trouble is that most of us have been raised in a culture that measures success in worldly terms.

It is so easy to fall into the restrictions of worldly success, that ultimately make us feel inadequate, unsuccessful and inevitably, like a failure.

We have been raised in a culture that praises numbers, wealth, and achievement, based on our personal efforts.

We see others around us who have led successful lives in that they have a great education, a high paying job, and material possessions.

Subconsciously we would love to have it too ….… and in seeing this we feel jealous, and inadequate in our own success with life.

This my friends, is the strategy that the enemy uses to seduce even the most sincere of us.

It is a lie from the enemy and a strategy that corrupts the truth of what God wants of us.

He is stealing your joy, your desire to please God, your motivation to be faithful, and replacing them with worldly concepts that in reality are idolatrous.

Jealousy, covetousness and depression, inevitably follow suit.

We have a hard time understanding that in achieving the ability to be faithful to God, He then can do mighty things in His ministry!

We get it wrong when we refer to His ministry as “our ministry,” when the reality is… it is God’s ministry, and God has placed Christ “as the head over all things to the church.” (Ephesians 1:22)

Interestingly you may find people outside of the church culture have a better handle on ‘What is Success’? 

Here is an example I read the other day by some anonymous person: 

“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; Whose life was an inspiration; Whose memory a benediction.” 

Rather than bombard you with scripture & verse to conclude this ‘blog’ as they call it, perhaps you need to sing this little song again, because at the end of the day true success is to be like Christ.


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