Measuring Success in Ministry
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. Zechariah 4:10
If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10
I worked for a fast-paced Fortune 500 company years ago, and it was all about the numbers. What have you done for me lately? seemed to be the company motto. It didn’t matter that an employee had booked $200,000 in sales in the last 60 days. What were they going to be able to book next month? How far above quota would they be? This is true in many businesses. Growth, growth, growth. And of course, businesses exist to make a profit, pay a staff, and so on.
Unfortunately, in ministry, we often measure our success in numbers, too. We shouldn’t, but we do. How many Facebook followers do you have? How many people attend your church? How many showed up to your last big meeting, conference, or Bible study? Who is the latest big-name Christian speaker you can get to your event and how many will they draw?
Evangelist Billy Graham has brought thousands, perhaps millions, to Christ with his life-changing sermons, ministry outreaches, and books. Yet, the mission has always been the same – one heart, one life, one soul. Although I do not know him personally, he certainly seems to be unaffected by any name-recognition he has. Those who know him often say he is the most humble man they’ve ever met.
Do you know that his role in the Kingdom is not any more or less significant than yours? The call God placed on his life to evangelize to the masses is not any more significant than your call to babysit children in the church nursery. The significance of faithfully taking an elderly neighbor for coffee on Saturday mornings is just as important as the one holding the microphone on Sunday mornings at church. We all have our role to fill. We all have those things in which God has called us to do. Be a good employee in the office where you are employed. It may the only light of Christ people see. Parent your children well. You are showing them Christ.
Often ministries, leaders, and churches seem to be in this pursuit to be “the next big thing.” The biggest nonprofit. The biggest church. The most influential pastor or author. The biggest fan-base on social media. It is ridiculous to compare your success to that of another ministry. Be faithful in what God has called you to do. Not everyone was called to write a book, preach, or some other ministry facet we’ve deemed important.
Of course, numbers can be used as one way of measuring the success of a program your church offers. I don’t negate that. But if one life comes to Christ versus one thousand, would the event or program still have been worth it? Perhaps if we chose to let go of the endless pursuit of “next big things”, the Lord would choose to extend our reach.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author of several books and the CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a global nonprofit that exists to educate and equip the church on best practices for single parent ministry. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.