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Beliefs About Success

If we are going to be pursuing a ministry vision worth pursuing, it’s necessary that we have a theological understanding of what success is.

Counter to what most ministry leaders say, being in ministry IS about success. Just not the kind of success you’re familiar with.

I once read a 600-page beast of a book that specifically addressed how to be successful.

The author really knew his stuff and laid out a bunch of success principles that undoubtedly work.

Ironically, however, at no point in this massive book that covered every success strategy did he define the word success. He would only say “whatever success is to you”.

I was unimpressed by his relative approach to the term success.

Of course success can be defined, and here is one way we can do it.

It’s obvious that there are greater and lesser degrees of success.

Consider these two scenarios and ask yourself if one is a greater success than the other:

  1. Maintaining a strong career and affording a nice house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, a wife, 1.5 kids, and a dog.
  2. Doing number one but also starting a nonprofit that rescues 1,000 children from imminent starvation

Of course you said number 2 is a greater success!

But it’s true that there are even greater successes than these.

But why is one success greater than another?

Because there is an ideal people are stiving for when they seek success.

In ministry, nearly everything we chase with our ministry vision is something that embodies the ideal to 1. Love God and 2. Love people.

The more we love God and love others the more successful we become.

But why do these things make us successful?

Because true success is to honor and glorify God.

Of course, we honor and glorify God with the resources we have, and we can honor and glorify God more or less effectively with those resources.

With $1,000 you could share the gospel message with 10 people in some third-world country or if you knew how to steward your resources better, you might be able to make that 100 people or 1,000 people. If you use the marketing training we discuss later, maybe you could share it with 10,000 or 100,000 people globally.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matt. 13:3b-8

With the same seed, the farmer got more or fewer results in this passage based on the type of soil he sowed on.

Having grown up in the midwest – I happen to know that there isn’t a farmer in the world who would throw (sow) his seeds onto the roads or into thorn bushes.

Seed is expensive and if he went around indiscriminately wasting it like that, he would be a farmer for very long.

The same is true with the ministry. If you want to reap a harvest of 100 times what you sow, you first have to learn how to discern what soil you are sowing into.

So the ultimate success is to not only honor God with our resources but to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Success is honoring and glorifying God as effectively as we can with the resources we are given

Success is a concept we can accept as ministry leaders, but success is something that we find after our bodily death – not before.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matt. 6:19-21

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