The Mark of Success
Updated: Oct 11
One thing that we talk about often in ministry is success. What is the mark of success?
Many people want numbers. But what are numbers when there's no heart behind them? We are not after numbers. We are after hearts, and sometimes that takes time. It definitely takes sacrifice, and every moment of suffering and sacrifice is worth it. For example, I had the opportunity to meet with a friend recently for lunch. I met this friend while she was working in the industry as a sex worker, and this was the first time we had met together outside of her place of work. I was excited to meet with her because we had corresponded over text and social media for years. I occasionally saw her at the conventions for adult film stars and always held her in a special place in my heart. Our relationship seemed very surface-level- coffee runs, snacks, words of encouragement, etc. There was nothing really "deep" about our interactions. But she kept in contact with me, and I wouldn't let that go. So, this particular afternoon, I made a trek out to see her. We sat down and began our small talk, and it wasn't more than 5 minutes that she opened up to say that this meeting was the most important meeting of her week. She shared how special it was to know and meet with me in person. And then she shared the words that brought tears to my eyes. She told me that she would never forget the first time we met and how it impacted the trajectory of her life. She said that she knew she had to be friends with me. Because I told her something that changed her life forever. I told her that I love her and that Jesus loves her. And from that statement, she had never been the same. Struggling to hold back tears, I affirmed that Jesus loves her and died to have a relationship with her. I confirmed her value and worth to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I can't even remember where the conversation went from there because it was so special and intimate.
A woman who had been exploited her entire life was met with the fierce confrontation that her life and value are worth more than gold or rubies to the God who created her- and to Jesus, the man who died for her. But not only died for her… the man whose name has been drug through the mud by the Church- the people who claim to follow Him and His ways. Jesus loved the sinner then, and he loves the sinner now. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus reached out to the prostitute to show love and compassion- He said let those who are without sin cast the first stone. And today, she experienced that in the flesh- Christ's love for her incarnate. I'm not saying any of this to boast myself or to condemn the Church. I simply share my passion and experience to call the Church to a higher place of sacrifice and service. A good friend has said, "We [Christians] are more known for what we don't believe in than what we do believe in." I think it's true we are so loud about what we don't accept (sin), but are we just as loud about what we do accept (sinners- aka- those who don't know Christ). My hope and exhortation is that the Church will be bold in LOVE and GRACE- for the grace that was poured out for you is the same grace that is poured out for them. There is no measurement of the cost of sin.
So when we talk about the mark or measure of success... we have to remember that even if the numbers don't show progress, it doesn't mean the hand of God isn't transforming the hearts and lives of those we encounter. The simplest seed can take root and blossom into the most beautiful success story. We must not grow weary or get fixated on numbers and spreadsheets. That is not how the Kingdom of God works. The Kingdom of God works through hearts and intimate relationships. And sometimes, it's not always visible to the naked eye.