A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a pastors’ meeting. As you can probably imagine, month in and month out I get to meet with pastors and church staff all over Virginia. It’s something I truly love. But this meeting was unique. Why? Because I was the only Baptist in the entire group! And the topic of the discussion was, What does success look like in ministry? What a great question! I’m sure you’ve thought about that topic whether you are in full-time ministry or serve the Lord through your church or ministry in a volunteer or part-time capacity. What does success look like? How do we know when we are making an eternal difference and that the Father approves? It was so interesting to hear these men share the highs and lows of ministry and the added pressure of success.
Many metrics of success in our culture deal with numbers—how many attended, how big is the budget, how many baptisms, how many ministries, etc. It’s not wrong to track those metrics—they can help us see trends that can inform how we lead, plan, and pray. If you are like me, you’ve probably spent many hours in front of a whiteboard or working on flowcharts to help plan strategies. But are those numbers how Jesus looks at success?
The words success and prosper appear in Scripture often. Each and every time we see those words, they deal with what some call the “deeper spiritual life.” Joseph prospered because the Lord was with him (Gen. 39:2). When David was about to die, one of the last things he told his son Solomon in 1 Kings 2:3 was to “Walk in His ways and keep his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees…so that you will have success in everything you do….” In Psalm 1, we find that the one who is happy and prosperous is the one who delights in the Lord’s instructions and meditates on them! There are many other instances in Scripture, but maybe the most well-known is when God tells Joshua that if the wilderness-bound Israelites want to prosper and have good success, they need to “observe carefully the whole instruction of my servant Moses…do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go.” And if they meditate on that word day and night and observe everything in it, they will both prosper and succeed in everything!
When I look at the cover of this magazine, I see success in action. When I read the amazing stories of what God is doing in and through the churches of the SBC of Virginia, I am constantly reminded of what success looks like. It’s the faithful obedience of God’s call on your life and ministry. It’s disciples making disciples who make disciples. It’s God’s people obeying what God teaches them through His Word each and every day—serving, sharing, planting. There’s no denying that’s true success!
All Scripture references are from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).