Posts tagged ‘ministry’

Success In Ministry

How do you define success? Specifically, how would you define “success” in ministry? Is it having a large congregation? Is it being a sought after speaker? The number of baptisms you have performed? And does your definition match God’s definition of success?

There are many names of people in Scripture who God declared to be successful, that the world (and I dare say much of the church) would say had failed. Take Noah for instance. The man preached for over 100 years, and the only converts he had to show for it were his wife and kids. Or the prophet Elijah, who as a reward for preaching the truth had a price on his head! Or Jeremiah, whose message was greeted with such hostility, they threw him in a cistern to die.
And then there was Isaiah, whose commission from God was as follows:
“Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,
“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people
And the land is utterly desolate, (Isaiah 6:10, 11 NASB)

Why did these men do these things if they were doomed to fail? Because God doesn’t measure success the way man does. God measures success as faithful obedience in a relationship with Him. It has never been about how well we do a thing. It is based on having a right standing with God. When that happens, spiritual fruit will follow.

Having that kind of focus will keep us from burning out when the world doesn’t beat a path to our door, fall to their knees, and ask what they must do to be saved. Jesus told the disciples this same thing.

And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20 NASB)

If we get too focused on what we are doing instead of who we are doing it for, we are setting ourselves up for failure, even though the world may call us a success. Jesus knew this and redirected the disciples’ rejoicing to something of eternal significance — that their names were written in heaven.

Paul admonished Timothy to make full proof of his ministry. He didn’t tell him to market the church, or raise outside support. He was to preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). Put in simpler terms, that means to preach the Word when people want to hear it and when people don’t want to hear it. Preach when it is easy and when it is hard. And if you spend your live faithfully giving spiritual food to His sheep, the Good Shepherd will reward you on the last day.

Just be diligent to deepen your walk with God, and the rest will follow. Paul’s charge to Timothy sums it up well.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16 NASB)


An Incarnation Celebration

I realize it’s August, but there is something on my heart that I need to share. And it can be summarized in one word – Christmas.

Yes, Christmas. It’s going to happen again this year, and there are some predictable things that will come with it. People will stress out about gifts to buy, going into debt again this year. Children will spend days wondering about what they are going to get, although some will give presents, too. The suicide rate will spike, and some marriages will finally break from the strain. Children will be told that Santa will bring them presents, so as to avoid offending anyone with stories about the birth of Jesus. Businesses will make the biggest money of the year, and it will all be over. Trees and wrapping paper will be recycled, and some things will be re-gifted.


Let’s wind the clock back. Not to our childhood, but further back. 2000 years back! While many will read the Christmas stories in Matthew 1 and Luke 2, John summed up the incarnation succinctly in just one verse.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NKJV)

The Word becoming flesh, known as the incarnation, is a pivotal moment in history. It is the intersection of humanity and eternity, where the very creator of the universe condescends to commune with His creation. Without the incarnation there would have been no salvation. That is worth celebrating!
But do we really celebrate this incarnation by commercialism and rituals borrowed from ancient pagan rites? No! Now some may say that it doesn’t matter what the symbols and practices meant to pagans long ago, it just matters what they symbolize to us today. I would submit that it only matters what those things mean to God, not to us.

So I ask, how do we rightly celebrate the supreme gift given to us at the Incarnation? By giving gifts. But not the kind I wrote about above. We should celebrate by giving ourselves, the same way He gave himself for us. This year can be different. What a perfect time to begin living out in our lives the compassion of Christ. So often Jesus was “moved with compassion” and met the needs of others. We, too, can give to the poor, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and teach our children that the real meaning of giving is not just to write a check and walk away, but to be the very hands and feet of Jesus as we minister to those who He came to save!

So why write something like this in August? Because we can start planning now! Find a need and plan to fill it. Make it intentional. Don’t just hope an opportunity presents itself, but actively seek out ways to be a blessing in Jesus’ name this year. Oh, and please don’t just give to some church fund and excuse yourself from active participation. Don’t fall into the trap of “I gave at the office so my obligation is covered” and miss out on a rich blessing!

We can do it if we plan to do it. Make this year different. Build memories of Christmas with something other than what I got this year. Be the manifestation of the love of Jesus to someone this year. Introduce them to this Jesus who is “the Word made flesh” and have a true Incarnation Celebration this year.


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