Previously, I blogged about “Learning from George Bailey.” I get him. I’ve felt like he did in the movie…and for many of the same reasons.
And like George, I’ve come to the end of myself, only to find hope in simple, yet mind-changing ways. Anyone who has seen the movie will remember how, near the end of the movie…after he had learned from “Clarence”…George scrambles to find Zuzu’s flower petals that he put in his pocket. It’s a moment of deep meaning. First of all, it meant that George was back to his “normal” life…the one where he really DID exist! But it was also a symbol of what was really important in his life…what really mattered. His success was not in accomplishing great things, but in the people whom he impacted; his family and friends. Big buildings and traveling the world was not what mattered the most. But loving and cherishing the little things…his little girl with the unfortunate name…his wife…the people in his simple town…those things mattered. And his success was simply this: he impacted others for good.
And there is where we find hope for our “George Bailey” moments…those times when we feel like our little lives really don’t matter much. It’s not in accomplish our dreams…getting our desires. But it’s in how we impact others. Speaking biblically now, we have stop defining success by OUR terms and start defining success in GOD’S terms.
Let’s be honest and admit something…we define sucess in numbers. All I have to do to prove this is attend a meeting with other pastors. It won’t take long before I get the question; “So, how big is Cornerstone now?” As if the sum total of our success is measured on how many people are curently attending my church services. But is that how GOD defines success? I don’t think so. I think God defines success in faithful obedience. Let me explain that…and back that up with Scripture.
In Matt. 25:14-30 we have the story of the stewards. Each was given a certain number of “talents” to invest. At the end of the parable, the master returns and he commends two of the servans, but condemns the third. Two were successful…one was not. What was the difference? FAITHFULNESS! He said to be “Well done good and faithful servant.” In fact, he commends thier faithfulness several times! It is interesting to note is that of the two successful stewards, one gained much more than the other. One had 10, the other had 4…but BOTH were commended and rewarded! To the master, the NUMBER of talents was not important. So what was important? Let me say it again…FAITHFULNESS! Faithful obedience.
Now, I do need to say this: I believe that if we ARE faithful to the proclamation of the gospel, we WILL see results! I think God is drawing peole to Himself today…people are still ripe for harvest! And if we are faithful in sharing Jesus, there will be some who believe….there will be fruit in our ministries. But having said that, I think we put way too much emphasis on numbers. After all, I don’t get asked, “How faithful have been in serving?” It’s always about the numbers.
Now, to get a biblical definition of success we have to define exact WHAT we are to be faithful in. And the answer is not much different from George Bailey’s. It’s how we love and serve others.
Jesus set the ultimate example when He said that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Paul called the church at Philippi to the same thing when he challenged them to “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3-5). Remember, the greatest commandment is to love God…andthe second is like it…to love others.
Pastor, are you faithfully loving others? Than you are a success! Are you shepherding your flock (2 Pet. 5) with care and compasstion, putting others first? Than you are a success! Are you giving yourself to teaching others the Word of God (2 Tim. 4)? Than you are successful, and not a failure, regardless of your Sunday Morning attendance. Faithfulness will bear fruit…and if we are faithful as shephers, overseers, teachers…if we are giving ourselves to others faithfully serving them for Christ’s sake, we are successful. And we should take JOY in that!
In fact that’s what I want to talk about next time…”Kissing Donna Reed.” You won’t want to miss it!