Yesterday I was driving back to Ville Platte after a wonderful, exciting, busy, interesting, fun, impactful, two week vacation. Hopefully, those adjectives give you enough explanation that I don't have to go into all the details (LOL). On the drive, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me about success.
What is success really? Who has it? What does it take to get it?
Success will look different based on your title. For instance, a MLB player's view of success is to be the best or most skilled at his or her position, make the all star team, set a record, be an mvp, and we'd all look and say, "yep, he's a successful baseball player". For a doctor it may be performing at a certain accuracy or finding out new information on a particular aspect of the body. For a parent it's to raise your child where they grow UP. Get a job, support themselves rather than you having to support them, them being a productive member of society. For a business man it may be reaching a certain level of sales or monetary gain. For someone within a corporation it may be climbing up the rankings to becoming the VP or some other "title". Success seems to always be climbing upwards.
I even googled success and this picture came up.
Then I wondered, what does a successful minster look like? What does a successful Christian look like?
Most of you reading this already know that God's measurements are often way different than the majority, they're usually the direct opposite of society and culture, but how do we measure it? Many of you are in full time ministry as I am. I feel honored and blessed to have pastors, evangelists, youth pastors, etc. who read my blog, mentors and friends who read it that are constantly bringing more wisdom into my life, and continually challenge me to grow in Christ.... How do we (true lovers of Jesus Christ) measure success?
Am I a successful youth pastor because I have 10 more students this month come through the doors of the church? Am I a successful evangelist when I'm ministering somewhere and the alter is flooded? Am I successful missionary because we fed over ____ families? Am I a successful follower of Christ because I prayed for someone in Wal-Mart or because I read my Bible everyday of 2012? Am I super successful because I went to S. Sudan or because I ministered on tv/radio or because God radically healed people through ministry I was involved with? What identifies you and your ministry as successful?
If the church adds 50 new people in 2013 we've been successful. If I minister out at least once a month. Or how about some of the more spiritual new years resolutions... If I see ____ kids in my youth group grow spiritually. If we are able to reach out to 15 new neighborhoods during evangelism. If 25 people come to Christ this month. If I lead 40 people to the Lord in 2013. If the church brings in this much money in tithes and offerings, or if my savings account has this much money it, or if i lose 10 lbs by this date. All seem to be indicators of success.
As I began to think about what society viewed as success, I began to think about what ministers viewed as success, then I began to think about what the church viewed as success, and then I had to stop and think what did I view as success? What does success look like to me? What makes me a successful youth pastor, daughter, friend, person, Christian? and then I got quiet and asked the Holy Spirit what He viewed as success.
Success to God will never be measured by a $ amount (and I know probably every person reading this already knows that), it will never be measured by how long the church's membership list is, it WILL NOT be measured by how many people you lead to Christ this year, how many you see healed, saved, delivered, and changed. My success as a youth pastor won't be based on how big the group is, how much outreach we do, how many are led to the Lord, how many dreams and visions we have, it won't even be based on how much growth we see in our kids. Oh don't get me wrong many people will base my success, or the church's success off of these things, but God will not.
The time for resolutions has come. New year, new changes, new choices, and I'm not against those things. I want us to GROW, I want us to IMPROVE, I want the body of Christ to FLOURISH and reach it's potential. However, don't lose sight of what true success is.
The greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then to love your neighbor as yourself. John 14 says if you LOVE HIM, you obey Him.
Your success is measured in how much you choose to love, not how much you can accomplish personally, professionally, in ministry, or anywhere else. Can you love more? Can you love deeper? Can you love beyond what you thought possible? Then you my friends, will be a success to our Daddy God.
Love, unlike success, you will find goes lower rather than tries to climb higher. It will began to see others as greater, it will esteem others higher, the love of God will always humble itself.
My resolution is to go to a depth of love for others in 2013 that seems unfathomable. To see the best and others, to think the best, to be patient and kind, to take no account of suffered wrongs, to love so deep and so strongly that He will be seen through me! Let's do it!
Be Blessed, Jess