FOLLOW THE LEADER: Session 32. So How Does Jesus Measure Success?

John 14: 15, 21, 23, 28, 31 (MsgB)

“If you love Me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.”

“The person who knows My commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves Me. And the person who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and make Myself plain to him.”

“If anyone loves Me, he will carefully keep My word and My Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood!”

“You’ve heard Me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of My life. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out My Father’s instructions right down to the last detail.”

Throughout this blog series on leadership, we’ve been looking at John’s Gospel, trying to uncover some of the patterns of ministry found in the lives of those who walked with Jesus. As I see it, if I want to be a successful pastoral shepherd of the church in the 21st century, I should start by examining more carefully those things that our counterparts in the first century deemed as important.

With that thought in mind, I’m struck by how succinctly Jesus addresses this issue of defining ‘successful ministry’ here in the latter part of John 14. Basically, our Lord bluntly states it this way:

“If you love Me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it in an equally short manner, “One act of obedience is worth a thousand sermons.”

You see, when it comes to defining ‘successful’ ministry from Jesus’ perspective, it’s not about the 3-B’s. Quite honestly, Jesus is not interested in how big our BUILDINGS are, how many BUCKS we bring in through our offerings, or the number of BUTTS we put into the pews on Sunday morning.

At the end of the day, the Holy Spirit isn’t looking for impressive results. He’s not tallying score sheets on how successful our church programming has been in reaching the lost. Or equipping the saints.

I’ll be bold here and even suggest that God, Himself could care less if you and I are deemed ‘successful’ by worldly standards. Or even by our denominational standards.

No.

Bottom line to ‘success’ by Kingdom standards?

Obedience.

Doing those things the Lord has asked us to do. Period.

And, as I see it, once you and I have traded in all our playing cards given to us by a world which defines ‘success’ by measuring the amount stuff in our pockets when we die; we can actually begin to live out the life and ministry Jesus intended for us.

You see, Jesus measured ‘success’ in His life and ministry by evaluating how well He did those things the Father asked Him to do. Jesus didn’t hold onto a score sheet, measuring His prowess in ministry by crowd size, effective sermons, or impressive outreaches. He didn’t wake up in the morning full of new and creative ideas on how to spread Christianity across the globe. I dare say, Jesus never gave one thought to breaking the two-hundred barrier or achieving ‘success’ in the way so many of us do today.

No. For Jesus, ‘success’ in ministry was fully dependent upon His ability to follow instructions from above. Nuff said.

Hmm? I wonder why we’ve made it so much more complicated than that?

My prayer: Lord, forgive me when I define ‘success’ in ministry using any other measuring stick than ‘simple obedience’ to You and Your Word. Deliver me from worldly systems that insist upon measuring ‘success’ by using other lesser standards. May I be found ‘faithful’ and ‘obedient’ today, knowing that by Your standards, that’s all You truly expect of me. For Your name’s sake.

My questions to ponder: So, let’s be honest here. What other standards of ‘success’ have I been guilty of applying to my life and to the lives of others? Where have I been wrong in using worldly measuring sticks when defining ‘success’ and how can I replace those standards with Jesus’ commands found here in John 14?

So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?

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