When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see someone successfully answering the call of God? Do you see someone who is dearly loved and treasured by Him? If not, why not?
May I just say that if you are doing your best to follow Jesus, you are successfully answering God’s call. And no matter what circumstances you face, you are deeply loved and cherished by Your Heavenly Father.
The world has such a narrow definition of success, and it has infiltrated the Church. As people God has called to lead, whether that be in a church setting or market place ministry, at home or in public, we must diligently guard ourselves from the deception that measures our worth by visible outcomes.
My husband and I were involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years before we took a break. In the early years we were called to serve churches out in the middle of nowhere. We poured ourselves into the people of our community and saw Jesus work powerfully in lives. It was wonderful to be a part of radical transformation as someone encountered God’s love and learned to walk in relationship with Him.
Because we wanted to be the best that we could be for the Lord, we read the books popular at the time about church growth and dynamic leadership, and we diligently applied the principles. But despite our efforts, while we saw people grow, we were not successful at numerical growth. To say it was painful to evaluate our success based on our ability to apply someone else’s ministry model is a serious understatement. Yet how realistic was it to expect a similar outcome in a registered ghost town (population 500) as in a mid-sized city?
In addition to leading small churches, I also homeschooled one or more of my five kids over a span of 20 years. I believed the Lord had called me to invest in their lives in this way, and He graciously provided for our family to live on one income. But there were times I felt like a failure. We weren’t involved in homeschool cooperatives. Our schedule was simple and revolved around church, music, and occasionally sports. There were days I itched to do more. I knew I was capable. For some reason, though, when I would start to pursue more activity the Lord would reign me in. He would remind me, “It’s not time for you to be involved in this.” And again, I would slow down.
Everywhere we turn, bigger is better and more is the gold standard.
But that way of thinking doesn’t equate in God’s Kingdom.
So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:4 NLT)
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Matthew 20:26 NIV).
Humility. Serving. Less is more. Loving God and being faithful to Him trump everything else. How well are we doing in these areas?
Success is when we can look in the mirror and know we are being faithful to do His will.
And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people (Romans 2:29b NLT).
Heavenly Father, I confess that I often measure myself by the world’s standards. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You and what You have asked me to do. Let me realize that being faithful to do Your will is enough. I surrender anew to Your plans and purposes for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.