How God Measures Success: Effectiveness or Faithfulness?

Reposted from April 2011 and worth repeating…daily. -JB

I often get asked, “How is the church plant doing?  Are you succeeding?”  That moment you must decide which measuring rod you’re going to use for gauging progress or failure.  I decided years ago that success in the Christian walk is measured by our FAITHFULNESS and not any sort of EFFECTIVENESS or ACCOMPLISHMENT.

Was Moses a successful leader?  Well, we could measure his effectiveness by the behavior of his people, their unity, by whether they obeyed God or rebelled.  We could simply measure his success by whether or not he reached his ultimate goal: The Promised Land.  But if we did, we’d have to honestly judge him a failure by these accounts.  But Moses is not a failure by biblical standards.  He is in the faith hall of fame and one of God’s greatest servants — because he was FAITHFUL to the call and obeyed God through thick and thin.

What did Peter discover that memorable moment on the boat when Jesus invited him to step out onto the water and walk toward him?  

“Come,” Jesus said. “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:29-31)

He discovered that you can either fix your eyes on what’s happening all around you (the choppy, unpredictable waters), or you can fix your eyes on Jesus who is calling you forward.  When you try to judge your success or progress or chances of survival or sanity by the intimidating waves crashing up against your cold, wet feet, you easily grow discouraged and begin to doubt.  But if we’ll fix our eyes on the One who has called us out of the boat and onto the risk-filled waters of faithful obedience, then we’ll be kept from sinking.

Our “mission team” at MainStreet believes — or at least I keep urging them to join me in believing — that if God is in this, and He has called us to this task, and He desires to build His church through us, then we can’t fail.  “If God is for us, who can stand against us?”  Or, as one wise rabbi pointed out long ago in regards to the early church movement: “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God”(Acts 5:38-39).

So, “How is the church plant doing?  Are you succeeding?”  Well, every morning I wake up and know deep in my bones that Jesus is standing in front of us calling us forward in faith.  As long as He’s calling us to walk forward, we are going to be faithful and rest assured that he’ll take care of the results and keep us from sinking.  Plus, do you realize how exciting it is to be in the boat in the first place, out at sea in the presence of the Living God?  I’d rather sink one hundred times, just to feel the rescuing hand of Jesus pulling me out of the deep time and time again!  It’s those who never leave the safety of the beach and venture out onto the waters of faithful obedience who are missing out.

Keep your eyes fixed on the One calling you forth!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Keri says:

    Amen. Well said.

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