Measuring Success Through God’s Eye
“You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. … with the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel in the face of strong opposition.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2
I felt as if we’d failed. We’d opened our home to a hurting teen, hoping to bring healing and point her to Jesus. We’d prayed for her, talked with her, and often shared truth. She seemed to listen and to grab hold of the life Christ offered. But it’d been a ruse.
She’d simply told us what she thought we wanted to hear. She’d been lying to us the entire time. When we thought she was staying after school for tutoring, she was actually sneaking off to do drugs with friends. She brought hard liquor into our home, hidden deep in her backpack, and engaged in shameful activity on social media—all without us knowing. Until one night, a friend of hers “ratted her out.”
We soon realized this young lady’s problems went much deeper than we’d thought. She was battling an alcohol addiction and perhaps mental illness. The next morning, I urged her to get help and promised to walk beside her. With a steely look in her eye, she refused. She told me she didn’t want to change, didn’t want to give up drinking, and could care less what I or anyone thought.
Evaluating the situation, I initially concluded that we failed. But God doesn’t measure success and failure like you or I might be tempted to. In His eyes, the moment we take that first step of obedience, we’ve succeeded, regardless of how things turn out. We’re to love others and boldly proclaim His truth, and when we do that, we can call it a win. Though Paul, the ancient evangelist who authored today’s verse, saw eternal fruit from his preaching, even if he hadn’t, I’m certain God would’ve called his actions a success, because he’d been obedient. That’s all God asked of him, and that’s all He asks of us.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes and podcasts for Crosswalk, is the author of Building a Family along with numerous other titles, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, releasing in the spring/summer of 2019. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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