DayBreaks for 01/14/14 – Faithfulness, Not Success
NOTE: I am traveling for work this week so I’ll be recycling some DayBreaks from previous years. New DayBreaks will resume again on 1/20/2014. Thanks for your understanding!
From the DayBreaks archive, 1/6/2004:
1 Cor. 4:5 (NLT) – “So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.”
I must say that I really admire Mother Theresa. I never met her, and I can only go by what I’ve read and been told by a friend who worked with her. Don’t get me wrong – Mother Theresa wasn’t perfect and I know that. I’ve been told by my friend that she was a woman with a wonderful heart, but that she could be stubborn and difficult to deal with, too. After all, she was only human like the rest of us. So it shouldn’t surprise us that Mother Theresa had her flaws. But we can still learn from her – just like we can learn from any other human being.
I read somewhere that Mother Theresa had a saying in her office that was her “motto”, if you please. It was simply this: “Faithfulness, not success.” I really like that. Especially in light of where I am in my own life right now – working to start a new congregation of believers in a town surrounded by New Age pop psychology and almost anything else you can think of. The group that is helping us start this congregation has started over 90 churches and over 70 of them are still growing and going strong. Recently, they started some churches that had attendance on their opening Sunday of over 500 people! And I must admit, in my heart of hearts, that I want to be successful in this church-planting effort. Whoa. Stop me, Lord! Pull me back to the motto: Faithfulness, not success.
Success can be defined many different ways: by bank accounts, stock portfolios, a house that looks like a castle, rising out of poverty to riches, getting that law or doctoral degree, starring in movies or having millions know who you are wherever you go. Those are all measures of success that are fairly common in the world. But those aren’t God’s measures of success. Even preachers are tempted to think off success in terms of numbers: is our attendance rising? How did our attendance count measure up on our first Sunday compared to others? How is our giving? Did it grow to match the goal? See what I mean?
I hope that I’ll always remember that God’s goal for me is faithfulness, not success. When I stand face to face with Him on the day when He opens the books and examines my life, He won’t ask me what a great success I was, and He won’t ask me for numbers or spreadsheets to prove my success. What He will look over my life for is my faithfulness. In fact, I need to learn a whole new definition of success based on God’s definition: to Him, faithfulness is success. That’s it. Pure and simple. My life as a Christian, as a minister/missionary, and your life as a Christian (after all, you know your calling as a Christian takes priority over anything else you do in life), will be determined successful if, and only if, we are faithful. If we do that one thing, we will be “successful” in God’s eyes. On the other hand, if we “gain the whole world but lose our soul”, we will be the greatest failure possible.
What is your goal for success? Is it in line with God’s goal for you – the goal of faithfulness?
PRAYER: Keep us from falling into the world’s trap of thinking that bigger is better, that success is about anything other than being faithful to You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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