Bigger, Better, More
In our culture, bigger is better. The bigger the budget, the better the company. The more clients, the better the business. The more branches, the bigger the reach, and therefore, obviously a better institution. Is this how Christianity is to be judged? It is not uncommon to determine ministry by effectiveness.
Was Jesus successful as a preacher? Or was Paul a successful church-planter? Is Christianity successful? In the world of megachurches and platform preachers, we may see them as unsuccessful.
Are we to apply these standards to a church or perhaps to a ministry? The most important question we can ask in regards to evaluating our ministries, evangelism, and parenting is: what does God think?
If we have a biblical view of success, we can be liberated from the crushing measurements set by the culture.
Well Done, Good and Faithful
Most people are familiar with the parable of talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The master gives a different amount of talents to each servant that works and is laboring for him. Each man does an amount of work, some more and some less; some more efficient, and some less efficient.
The master returns and how does he evaluate the servants? Listen to him speak: “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much,” (Matthew 25:21, ESV).
Notice he didn’t say “good and successful” or “good and productive,” or even “good and rich” servant. Instead, he was judged and rewarded for his faithfulness. The master judged and rewarded him for being faithful!
This is a liberating truth! Jesus Christ is our treasure and our goal. In whatever we do, He is our joy and our aim.
The biblical principle is that God evaluates our faithfulness not our fruitfulness. But why is that? Why does God evaluate our handling, responsibility, and faithfulness, rather than the results?
The Sovereign Ruler
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth,” (1 Corinthians 3:7, ESV). God is the sovereign King. He rules, governs, ordains, and controls all things by His will and pleasure (Daniel 4:35; Psalm 115:3). Whatever the Lord pleases, He does (Psalm 135:6). Therefore, if it pleases God to do this or to do that, the Potter will do so with the clay.
In all of our endeavors we are to be faithful because God is sovereign. This matters greatly for your ministry and parenting. Measuring ministry by the success syndrome is deadly and worldly. Evaluating parenting apart from what God has commanded and called parents to do and be is crushing.
We must remind ourselves of our union and belonging to the unchanging Christ, not our circumstances.
Because we can’t change the sinner’s heart, we must faithfully proclaim the whole gospel, trusting that God gives the growth.
Because we can’t change our children’s hearts, we must faithfully discipline and love them, trusting that God gives the growth.
Because we can’t increase our income, we must faithfully steward and work hard, trusting that God gives the growth.
If we evaluate the ministries and lives of Jesus and the Apostles by worldly standards of success, they are failures. But if we apply biblical standards and judged them as God sees, they have done well.
God rewards our faithfulness, not our fruitfulness. The Lord cares about your obedience more than the outcome. God delights in your faithfulness more than your following.
Drink in the liberating reality that God gives the growth and you shall walk with joy and contentment in the Sovereign King.