Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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The Measure of Success

  • Jim Townsley
  • Feb 16, 2011

"The measure of a man's success is determined by the extent of God's control in his life."

How do we determine success? Are we wise to even consider measuring success? If we can and should measure success, by whose standard can we measure it? I have heard the statement, "The ministry is the same wherever you serve and the Bible still works no matter your location." Often this statement, or one similar to it, will receive many amen's at a preacher's fellowship. I concur that the Bible is the same, but by no means is every field the same and results will often vary considerably.
A preacher with no goals usually will accomplish very little in the ministry. Aim for nothing and you are bound to hit it. The question we must ask is what goals should I set and how should I measure my progress? Two extremes of goal setting should be avoided. 1. Setting goals as a means of competing with others. 2. Starting a ministry and just hoping things will work out.

Preachers must learn to expand and reach out, while at the same time this outreach should be conducted out of spiritual concern and conviction. Setting a timeline for starting a church is a wise thing to do. Without a timeline many important tasks can be overlooked and may never be accomplished. Setting a goal for knocking on a certain number of doors is a good goal, but setting a number for the first Sunday's attendance may be beyond our control. Setting quotas for pamphlets distributed can very much be in our control.

While it is awkward to set a goal of people being saved, the number of hours spent witnessing and presenting the gospel is easier to measure. I can recall many episodes of frustration when it just seemed few souls were being saved. About the time I was ready to quit God began working and many souls were saved, teaching me again that He is the one who does the saving, I merely do the witnessing.

Is achieving our goals a sure sign of success? Not necessarily. A score of considerations must be taken into account when we consider our success or lack thereof. A man building a church with souls he has won in Ireland or Italy could hardly be compared with a ministry in Alabama or Tennessee. A man laboring among the western Indians will face unusual circumstanced few others will face. Starting a church in a New England town that has never had a Baptist church in its three hundred year history will be different than starting a church in Kentucky. Working with Muslims or Hindus with not be the same as working among people with a Christian background. Serving in Japan will be far different than serving in the Philippines.

Cultures and regions will offer different challenges and to expect the same result can be discouraging to a young man who is actually doing a good job in his respective field. Other considerations are: How many souls have been saved? How many men and women have been discipled? How many attend Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night? How many young men and women have surrendered to fulltime service? How faithful are people to give and is the church family actively involved in missions around the world? How many have been trained as soul-winners. What is the attendance in Sunday school and what is the quality of teaching? What about the music of the church? Is the music honoring to the Lord?

In reality it is difficult to measure success in the ministry. If success could easily be measured I fear we would boast of our accomplishments and thus forfeit any reward for success we may have attained. I suspect many small churches are more successful than we realize and many large ministries are less effective than is known. I don't want to encourage laziness or apathy since our time on earth is brief and we should all be working as hard as possible. But, one day heaven will reveal the real heroes and I suspect many of them will have achieved little notoriety on earth. I believe God's standard of measurement will be different than most of ours. The real standard will be when we stand before the Lord and give account for our works. The measure no doubt will be calculated by how closely we followed the Bible and how much we were led by the Holy Spirit.

"The measure of a man's success is determined by the extent of God's control in his life."