How do you measure success?

Matthew 25:31-45 31When the Son of Man comes in His glory (His majesty and splendor), and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  32All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; 33And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left.  34Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me  36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. 37Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?  38And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? 39And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? 40And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. 41Then He will say to those at His left hand, Be gone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink,  43I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. 44Then they also [in their turn] will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?  45And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare to you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least [in the estimation of men] of these, you failed to do it for Me.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what success is. I’ve heard people taking about being successful, and ways to become a success. But what does that mean exactly? To be a “success”? In ministry it seems many times “success” is measured by the size of the church, the number of people attending the crusades, the amount of television airtime that a ministry has, how many times a preacher or singer is on the Praise the Lord program, the number of articles written about the ministry in Charisma magazine, the number of albums sold, the number of blog followers, the amount of speaking or singing engagements one has in a year, etc…. Please understand, I AM NOT knocking any of these things. My husband and I pastor a growing local church as well as travel and minister around the world, we have had a weekly television show, and have been interviewed on programs, we both write blogs too, so I am not saying these are bad things .  I think it’s a great thing to grow the local church, I’m all for it. The more people that attend crusades means more people that have an opportunity to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior or to receive healing. Television is a medium that is so far reaching that people in other countries have the chance to hear the gospel. The Praise the Lord program is broadcast throughout the world and is an encouragement to the believer as well as a way to reach the lost. Christian magazines, CD’s and blogs are good things as well and many people who would not step foot in a church may be receptive to listening to an album that is filled with songs of hope and love about God, or read a blog by a popular Christian writer. I believe it is vital to bring other ministry gifts into the local church body. Singing and speaking engagements are good things and if someone is called to minister and has a full schedule that is a wonderful thing! So I am not saying any of these things are wrong to have or do, but do they mean that someone is successful?

 I know of a man who has been a pastor of a very small church for the past 20 years. He doesn’t have many members, he doesn’t have a cool website or a glossy marketing plan, he isn’t invited to speak at other churches or big conferences, He will probably never be known to the world. BUT every week he goes and picks up the older shut ins who have no other way to get to church. He visits the sick, he helps provide for the poor. Even when he doesn’t know how to make ends meet, he still perseveres. People might look at this pastor and think he isn’t a success, but I have a feeling when God looks at him, HE sees a good and faithful servant. I have a feeling that when He stands before God one day that as it says in verses 34- 40 34Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me  36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. 37Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?  38And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? 39And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? 40And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.

 That last verse 40 has been ringing in my head for the past couple of weeks, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. Do we get so busy living our lives trying to be a “success” in everything we do, that we forget about the least of these? Lately I have been really looking at people through eyes of compassion. A couple of weeks ago I saw a drunk homeless man, and when I looked at him, my heart ached. He was so bound by alcohol and it broke my heart. When I saw him, the only thing I could think, was “he is the least of these.” I was moved to go lay hands on him and pray for him and watched him become coherent. He was free, if even for a moment of the bondage that clouded his mind. That made me feel like more of a success than anything I could ever achieve. A lady sat in my office this week with pain wracking her body, so bound by fear that she couldn’t even think or speak straight. When I looked at her, I saw her through Jesus’ eyes, and all I could think was “She is the least of these”. When I prayed with her and the pain left her body, that was what I term a success. Seeing single moms grow in their relationship with God and gaining an understanding of who they are in Christ; watching people have the dream on the inside of them awakened and begin to walk in their destiny; and seeing those that were lost with no hope give their lives to the Lord and change the way they live, these are all what I call success. The ladies that come to our homeless outreach each week and prepare a hot, home-cooked, meal for the underprivileged men, women and children in our community are as much a success as the most well known evangelist who travels the globe. Those that go into the prison each and every week teaching the inmates how to be free in Christ are as big a success as the man who oversees a global ministry and mega church. The lady who gathers clothes and toiletries for the homeless out of the goodness of her heart- she is as much a success in God’s eyes as the lady who holds big conferences in filled stadiums. The lady I know who heads up a group for single mothers and provides support, encouragement, food, clothing, school supplies and other needs for the moms and their kids? She is a success. The couple that faithfully goes out every week and holds sidewalk Sunday school for kids whose parents won’t bring them to church, teaching them about Jesus? They are a success.

 Success is ultimately a good thing. I encourage you to achieve everything that God has placed on  the inside of you, but in the midst of the achieving, don’t forget about the least of these, for that is the truest measure of success.

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One response to “How do you measure success?

  1. hey liz! this is so wise and true!

    i guess how we define success
    defines us!

    love,
    lea

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