Archive | Our Daily Truth

What Defines Ministry Success?

“Grant to us that we sit on you right hand and left hand in glory.” Such were the presumptuous words of James and John to Jesus (Mark 10:35). I have often wondered who will have such places of prestige in heaven. Who will shine like stars? Who will have the brightest halos? Who will have best jobs, ruling over many cities? Who do you think it will be? Billy Graham? Chuck Swindoll? C. S. Lewis? Martin Luther? How about Augustine, Polycarp, or any of the great martyrs of the faith? Who would be on your list of the “Most successful Christians of all-time”?

What defines ministry success? Oh, that is an easy one: lots of people. In a church, this may mean bigger buildings. At a bible study, this translates into lots of people who don’t fall asleep during your lesson. At home, this means successful witnessing to your neighbors. In your family, this means all your children loving the Lord. On your blog, this means more readers. On Twitter, this means more followers. Here at the Credo House, it means lots of people deepening in their faith as well as planting dozens of new Credo Houses all over the world. Any or all of these are what comes to mind when we define success in ministry.

I don’t mean to minimize the importance of numbers, statistics, and, indeed, people who grow in the Lord. However, I am coming to believe more and more that these things are secondary to true success. I am beginning to think that those people who have done the most for the Lord are going to be “no-names” to us. They are going to be the school teachers, the car salesmen, the waitresses, farmers, and mayors of small towns. They are going to be the Bobs, Tammys, Jacks, and Sarahs. In other words, they are going to be those people who no one really knew much about. Not the men of fame. Not the movers and shakers in the Christian commercial industry. Not even the pastors. They are going to be everyday folk with everyday names who, were it not for the eyes of the Lord which penetrates all that we hold dear, would not be ever known.

Think about those who made it into the list in Hebrews 11. You know THE list. The list of faith. The list of the great men and women of the past. The list of those whom the Lord had his eye on. While most of us know about these people, there was really nothing too special about them from the world’s point of view. If the Bible had not told us, we probably would not have said that they were “succesful” in ministry. They certainly would not have made my list. Some of them may have made the “other” list if you know what I mean. Continue Reading →

Our Daily Truth: Stop Trying to be Someone Else

I know of the head of a particular ministry who spends all his time looking at what others are doing. If he finds someone who is successfully doing something new, he seeks to replicate it. There is no sense of celebration for the other’s success and no way he is going to point his audience to another ministry. His only thought is on what he can do to replicate the ideas of “his rival” in hopes of gaining a portion of their success.

“This person has a blog. I need a blog.”

“This person no longer wears a coat and tie. I am no longer going to wear a coat and tie.”

“This person writes books. I better write a book.”

“This person has a Ph.D. I guess I need one. ”

“This person got a tattoo. I need a tattoo.”

“This person spoke about sex during the sermon. I guess I had better speak on the subject.”

“This person tweets and has a podcast. I don’t know what either of these are, but I suppose I better tweet and podcast too.”

Simply put, there are people who are born, bred, and gifted to stay on the bleeding edge of things, always cutting new grain and finding an audience along the way. But most of us are not like that. Most of us are going to fumble the ball every time we try to catch others’ passes.

Chuck Swindoll once told me to be myself. “Don’t waste your time trying to be someone who you are not. I did it for years and regret it all. It took me a long time to quit imitating others and allow the Lord to work through me, the way he made me.”

(Ironically, I have spent a lot of time trying to be like Chuck Swindoll!)

I think so many of us waste so much time trying to be someone we are not. We try to mimic the success of others. Our eyes are continually on what others are doing, not on what God has for us to do. It is easy to do. It is easy to justify. It is easy to be envious of others, even in ministry – especially in ministry.

Sometimes we look to other churches. Jealousy wells up within us as “success” is seen. At this point, we often go one of two ways, both of them wrong. We either try to do exactly what they are doing and mimic their success, or we spend our time criticizing their methods. Rarely do we celebrate with them. Rarely do we congratulate them. Rarely are we content where God has us.

Why do we do this? Why can’t we just be ourselves?

You are in no better place than when you are spending your time being yourself. Sure, there are many things that you can do to improve and make your ministry more effective. But when your effectiveness is determined by a comparison to others, you have dropped the ball. When your imitation of others is forced and unnatural, you are denying the unique way that God made you. God wants to use you, not you as a clone of someone else.

Remember, the body of Christ is made up of many parts. The eye is not the ear. The hand is not the foot. And you are not someone else. Believe it or not, this is intentional.

Jesus: King of Unmet Expectations

Let’s face it: Christ did not meet people’s expectation. He was supposed to be the savior of Israel. He was supposed to be the king of the world.  Yet, he was born in an obscure city, to obscure parents, and led a very obscure life until he entered his thirties. When things finally began to move forward, it did not go the way it was supposed to. At least, it did not go the way people thought it was supposed to go. Though protested by others, he was baptized by someone else (John 3:14-15). He was rejected in his own home town (Matthew 13:57). I mean, who can blame them. “Oh, that’s just Jesus. I changed his diapers. Now he thinks he is something special? He puts on his pants one leg at a time just like the rest of us.” He chose a gang of rough fishermen and nobodies to be his main followers. Others probably snickered, “That is the best he can get!” He was rejected by the religious establishment of the day. The aristocrats wanted nothing to do with him.

Every time he got his foot in the door, he would pull it back out. Upon performing many miracles, he had people take notice. “Maybe there is something to this Jesus. Maybe he is the one. Maybe he is the king who will provide for this nation.” Then he would turn around and tell them something crazy like “eat my flesh and drink my blood” (John 6:56) and scare them off. Then, to top it all off, he had to go and die. No, actually there is more. He had to go and die on a piece of wood. “Accursed is anyone who hangs on a tree!” (Deut 21:23). Christ was the king of not meeting people’s expectation. He was the king of bringing about experiences that confuse us. Continue Reading →