It is very easy to say “I’m going to _____ for Jesus!” I recall quite vividly when I filled in that blank with “live.” I can also remember filling it in with lots of other words, most recently “write.” I’ve written before on this blog how I enjoy writing. I’ve had plenty of people tell me how much they enjoy reading it and it is not a difficult thing (especially given how I can say I’m writing for Jesus”) for me to say that writing is a part of my ministry. The problem here is that ministry is essentially work. And given how I am living in the culture that pretty much defined “protestant work ethic” There is a heavy temptation to judge the quality (and therefore the validity and value) of my work against the fruit that it bears.
Fruit in this case is not lovejoypeacepatiencekindnessgoodnessfaithfulnessgentlnessandselfcontrol but rather real, tangible results. If I’m running a business I want to know that I’m making money. If I’m teaching kids I want to see their test scores improve. If I’m involved with a ministry I want to see people saved and free. If I’m a head pastor I want to see butts in seats and more of them every month. I am, in short, driven to quantify my results. As a writer I’m tempted to look at how many books/articles I’ve published. I want to see how many books I’ve sold (which is 0 btw), how many people have seen my blog, how many people have left comments.
This however, is not success. If I were just anyone then perhaps I could count these things as success. But I am not just anyone. I am a child of God. I am a co-heir with Christ. I am a temple of Holy Spirit. I am a Christian and for the Christian there are only two benchmarks for success:
- Am I in the presence of the Lord? (cf Exodus 33:15)
- Am I obedient to the Lord? (cf 1 Samuel 15:22)
This is the core nature of what it means to have Christ as Lord: that we want to be close to him and that we will eagerly do everything and anything he asks of us.
If we as Christians proclaim that Christ is our Lord and savior and that we love Him, then these two benchmarks should be amazingly easy to hit. The truth is that as much as we love Christ it is easy to get distracted by more tangible results. This is not a condemnation of anyone so much as it is a confession – I regularly ask in my prayer “Father, should I quit what I’m doing? I’m not seeing any fruit…” and then I am reminded that obedience is it’s own fruit. That “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”
I’m reminded, “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” “Be sure I am with you even until the end of the age.”
Does anyone out there have other good bible passages to help remind you of real success?