I’ve been thinking a lot about how we define success in the Christian life in general and specifically in ministry. I confess that part of me shies away from defining success and I don’t think I’m alone in this regard. I think I avoid defining success partly because it risks reducing the Christian life and ministry to a legalistic formula of checked boxes that we know from Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees is anything but success. More than that though I think we avoid defining success because doing so will expose our failure or mediocracy.
Yet if we don’t acknowledge failure and mediocracy we won’t grow and that right there is I believe the definition of success. A successful Christian life is one that is growing in its love of God and neighbor – the Great Commandment. It is growing in its fulfillment of the Great Commission and it is growing in the Fruit of the Spirit. Relatedly, successful ministry is that which helps others grow in these same areas.
So, are you succeeding? Are you growing? Even if you are not, or are not consistently, acknowledging the need for growth is an important first step toward growth and success. Relatedly, my asking the question is, I pray, a step toward greater growth and success in ministry as a church.