The measure of success for an organization or individual, religious or non-religious, is not how many people we are serving, rather, whether we are serving the very best we have to offer to those who are there.
I remember a story I heard years ago about a lady who was teaching a discipleship class in a large inner-city church. The class was for unmarried, pregnant, teenage girls. It was held every Tuesday night. One Tuesday the teacher had an absolutely horrible day at work and had considered canceling the class.
However, after much thought she decided to go ahead with the class. She was late leaving work and when she finally made it outside the high-rise office building in which she worked, she discovered the weather matched the day she had endured inside, horrible! It was cold, raining, and she had forgotten her umbrella. Consequently, when she arrived at the church she was late, cold, soaked to the bone, and very frustrated.
When she got to the classroom she was disheartened to discover that only one of the girls had shown up for the class. Before she thought about what she was saying, she blurted out, “Well, considering the awful day I’ve had, if I had known you were going to be the only one to show up, I would have cancelled the class.” A tear began to roll down the young girl’s cheek. She looked at the teacher and said, “Why? Ain’t I important?”
We tend to forget that God never called us to be successful. (At least not by human standards.) He called us to be obedient. With this in mind it is safe to say that the pastor serving a congregation of ten to fifteen people of the backside of No Hope, GA, who is where God has called him, is just as successful as the pastor of the big mega-church in Big City, GA.
The Sunday School teacher who faithfully ministers to one, two, or three people each week, because that is where God has placed him or her, is just as successful as the teacher who has a class of two hundred. The music minister or worship leader who faithfully leads a choir of eight people singing to a congregation of six people because that is where God has called and placed him, is just as successful and important as the music minister who is leading a choir of two hundred who sing to a congregation of a thousand.
The measure of success isn’t the numbers. The measure of success is obediently presenting the very best we have to offer – wherever God has placed us.
The Bible leaves no doubt that Jesus ministered to great crowds. On one occasion He fed four thousand people, and on another, five thousand. Many times he was thronged or pressed by the crowds who wanted to see Him. However, the focus of His ministry wasn’t the crowds.
The focus of His ministry was His twelve disciples, and every individual He encountered along His life path. He poured the essence of Himself into them. He realized that when the qualities He modeled were successfully duplicated in the lives of the few, the “inner circle,” then the ministry to the masses would be automatic. Was His strategy successful? You tell me.
After His death these ordinary men began to flesh-out the qualities He had taught them. They were so successful that their teachings forever divided history into B.C. and A.D. And two thousand years after His death His story is still being told.
As we seek to win a lost and dying world to Jesus Christ, let us never lose sight of the fact that somewhere in this world right now, somebody, or some family, sits in life’s café, hungry, needing our attention. The only thing that will satisfy them is the Product we’re serving. They will not measure the success of our Product by how well we served It to the masses. They will measure by how well we served It to them. Our Product? Jesus Christ!