“Our world is obsessed with success. But how does God define success? Success in God’s eyes is faithfulness to His calling.” —Billy Graham
I contemplated what “success” looked like in life and ministry for years. Was it in numbers? Was it in likes and shares? Was it in how I was labeled? As a leader, I found it extremely difficult to silence these voices in my head. If I’m honest, I found my worth in these things to a fault. Then, I had a sudden job change a few years back, and I spent many nights praying and asking God to show me what He was teaching me through this trial.
I read verses like Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) which says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Or verses such as Psalm 145:17 (CSB), which reads, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all his acts.” These verses hit me like a ton of bricks. What did I learn? I cared way more about what people thought about me than what God says about me. As I was driving home late one night, this hit me: Daniel, are you more concerned with being successful or faithful? The way I answered this question revealed where I placed my true hope.
I identify a lot with Billy Graham’s quote on success and faithfulness. I have seen several ministry leaders that would define “success” in staff meetings over the years. It would be a whiteboard session that included pathways to grow people and what a “leader” looks like. And in some of those meetings, I truly felt like the Holy Spirit was in the room as we had these conversations. At other times, I felt it was a business meeting, and the results would look no different from if a secular company held the meeting. I have also learned the importance of having healthy systems in place, and churches will grow in God’s time. The second chapter of Acts affirms this when it says, “…And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b NLT). Notice the growth came after devotion to the Word, authentic praying and serving, and praising God.
I believe now, more than ever, faithfulness is what the next generation needs to see and experience. Men and women who are called by God and running the race to win (1 Corinthians 9:24). Our goal should be faithfulness, and if God blesses us with success as far as how we define that term, then so be it. But our goal should not be success, or we will fail every time—no matter if the numbers increase. Our goal is faithfulness. I tell teenagers all the time to live life open-handed unto the Lord. Each day we should wake up and pray, “Lord, I’m yours. Whatever you have for me this day, may I be faithful to Your will.”
My encouragement to you is simply to be faithful to the Lord’s will. Not only for your own spiritual health but also for the countless next generation of Jesus followers who look to us for guidance. May they see us hungry for God’s Word, daily praying, and serving the least of these. After all, the verse does not read, “Well done, my good and successful servant.” It reads, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Faithfulness tends to be a lost art in today’s culture, but what a goal to pursue.