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Success And Failure

When do you feel that your life has been a success? I believe God has a very different perspective on the matter than the world in which we live. I know, being a man, it appears to me the world tends to measure success with numbers. So as a Baptist pastor those factors would be such things as baptisms, dollars, and attendance. And it is rather well ingrained into the ministry culture. All you have to do is look at our denominational literature and leadership. It’s all about big churches and big numbers. You will not see a small church pastor elected as moderator of the state convention, nor his church featured on the front page of a Baptist periodical. And I will be honest- outward, measurable, verifiable “success” can make you feel better about yourself. When things have gone particularly well at my church, then I’m tempted to stand taller at pastor’s gatherings. Ah, we pastors do have egos!

Some people do come to the point of maturity in life where they are no longer so much concerned with what others think. These folks are comfortable enough in their own skins, with who they are and where they find themselves in life, they can simply be themselves. And I am moving in that direction. Of course I should always weigh the impact of my actions and words, hopefully before and not after. But whether this person will like me or be impressed with me is no longer top priority. There are higher agendas- like striving to be a person of integrity and love, and most of all being a person who gives honor to God. How about our church- when will we be successful as a church? I’m convinced, more with every passing day, that God has very little concern with defining success by the popular opinions of the powers-that-be. Jesus failed such a test- they even crucified him. And how about Steven in the book of Acts? He got into big trouble with the religious status-quo and they stoned him to death. It was then that he saw Jesus “standing at the Father’s right hand”. Apparently Jesus was willing to stand in honor of the “success” of this man. And he was successful not because of number and baptisms, but because he was truly faithful to his divine task. And that’s it folks. Live your life under the power of the Holy Spirit, doing your best in service to God, leaving the results up to Him. That’s success.

Mt. Tabor is a great church. We are not comparing ourselves with others, not trying to “beat” any other church. We seek to be the best church we can be, do everything with excellence for the glory of God. In final analysis, we understand God sees and knows all things. He is our judge. Let each of us be this kind of person, and collective this kind of church.

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