Displaying items by tag: leadership management

The 'Other Guy'

by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel

Twelve tribes. Twelve leaders.

Each of these twelve men had the same mission, the same destination. The destination was the Promised Land. The mission was straight from God through Moses: Scout out the land of Canaan.

We know the story. How many came back? How many had a negative report? Ten. How many came back with a good report? Two. Remember, all twelve were Israelites who had seen the same power of God, heroically leading them out of the land of Egypt and miraculously parting the Red Sea for the entire nation to walk across dry land.

Each of these leaders were adventurers—explorers, daring to go where no Israelite had gone before. But only two came back with a good report.

Now, let's think about those two. Two men, two characters, two temperaments, two callings, two destinies. One destination, one God.

We know plenty about Joshua...the man even has a book named after him. Joshua was the understudy for Moses before eventually replacing him as the leader of God's chosen people. He used to stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting even after Moses had gone to bed.

With Moses kept outside Canaan, it was Joshua who led the people on the last leg of the journey into the Promised Land. He led the march around Jericho. Joshua charged and challenged the people with perhaps the most popular wall hanging in Christian homes today: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

Then there was "The Other Guy." What was his name again? Caleb. What do we know about Caleb? Not a whole lot. Other than as his Hebrew name suggests, he was wholehearted. He followed the Lord wholeheartedly.

Caleb, along with Joshua, had journeyed into the same Promised Land with the other spies, had seen the same things, and came back with a report that, along with Joshua's, differed so much from that of the 10 that his life was spared. Along with Joshua, Israel's second in command, Caleb had been brave and had to swim against the tide.

Now imagine: When Joshua received his accolades from the Israelites, he did not stand up and say (or at least it is not recorded): "I want to thank everyone who made this possible, especially my friend and companion, a man of great and wholehearted faith, Caleb the Kenizzite." (A roar of applause rises in the background)." No, no accolades. No book. No quotable quote hanging on my kitchen wall 3,000 years later.

Caleb was the other guy. But, what a guy.

The boldness of being the 'other guy'

Caleb, as far as we know, was about 80 years old when he walked into the Promised Land. After seven years of fighting the Canaanites, Jebusites, Amalekites and other-ites, Caleb boldly walked up to Joshua and asked for the inheritance, the destiny that was his. Then, he took it. He received all that he asked for. That interaction is recorded in Joshua 14:7-14, which underscores Caleb's wholeheartedness and vigor in serving the Lord.

Hebron has belonged to Caleb ever since (Joshua14:14). Caleb's destiny was secure. He was able to take that same hill country he had seen over 40 years earlier.

He was strong. He was patient. He waited more than 40 years to get his hill country. He persevered. He never lost sight of the vision or the promise. He trusted God. He did not try to accomplish God's will on his own. He was a man of conviction. He was not self-reliant; he knew he needed the Lord's help. He had a specific place he wanted: The hill country.

Caleb was not a namby-pamby guy who would take leftovers. He had a place in mind within the destination of God, and he asked for it. He respected authority. He went to Joshua and reminded him of the promises of God in the midst of Joshua parceling out all the land, and simply asked for what was rightfully his.

Caleb was not a jealous guy—at least there is nothing to indicate he was. He watched Joshua follow Moses into the tent of meeting. He watched Joshua take the place as leader of the Israelites. He watched as Joshua led. What kind of leader was this? A wholehearted leader who never lost his vision for his destiny or God's destination.

Caleb took the promises of God, not as a deserved reward, but as an opportunity to exercise faith and claim new victories. Caleb was in his 80s, yet he asked for the hardest place of all, a place where giants were entrenched and where the fierce Anakim still guarded the cities (v.12). He did not ask for an easy place where he could spend his remaining years in peace and quietness. He still wanted to do something for the Lord, and for those who would come after him.

You will notice, that although Caleb thanked God for his vigor and strength, he did not depend on his own strength. Instead, he confessed his need of God's help and demonstrated a faith firmly grounded in God's promise, not on his own strength, nor that of his fellow Israelites. Though Israel had disappointed him 40-plus years before, Caleb did not complain when he had to continue wandering in the wilderness with his countrymen.

Learning from the 'other guy'

What can we learn from the other guy? Not everyone is a Joshua. Not everyone is in the limelight. Not everyone has a biography that thousands read. God will not, and does not, reprimand, chastise us, or judge us for that. Sometimes, the best leaders are those faithful folks who lead behind the scenes, daily exercising faith, declaring their testimony, and pressing on to claim what God has for them.

Sometimes we don't understand why disappointments come our way, often through no fault of our own. But we must remember that new opportunities can still come our way if we hold steady in faith and keep on walking with the Lord. Caleb watched his fellow leader and servant, Joshua, succeed, lead, fight, and win battles, while he himself did not grow weary of doing good.

He did not grow jealous or competitive. He did not grow disrespectful, he respected the authority and anointing of God in Joshua.

We must all, like Caleb "wholly follow the lord." Let us not seek honor or reputation from our fellow man. It is enough to do with all our hearts whatever God gives us to do, and give all the glory to Jesus. Then we will some day hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

What about you? Are you a Joshua? Leading seven times around the city, charging into Jericho, dispensing justice, and lands, slaying giants? Or are you a Caleb, the other guy? The other one? Faithfully, mightily, justly, humbly, patiently and wholeheartedly following God, into your destiny?

Whether a "Caleb" or a "Joshua," let us be found wholeheartedly loving and serving Jesus.

Air Force Three...

by Chet Scott, Built To Lead

The US Air Force trains it team to memorize two numbers, for the sole purpose of their survival during a time of trauma. We don't recall so well when we're overwhelmed, so our military leaders want these numbers embedded in their soldiers brains.

Our tendency, remember, is to do nothing, to turn into statues when we become hyper-stressed. This is rarely the right call. If the building is on fire, run. If the plane has crashed and you are still alive – move. If the boat is capsizing in the open seas, get going. Head for the upper deck and plan your escape. Don't sit still. However, if you're lost deep in the woods, according to Ken Hill a renowned expert in this field, don't get busy moving. Don't run. Don't move. This is where being a statue actually pays off. STOP. You are most likely to be found, in this case, if you stay where you are. Moving on...

Our fear tendency takes a similar look and feel every day around the hallways of corporate America. The moment things get a little hazy, crazy, and out of control we start to freak. When we can't see where we're going the freak can reach a dizzying peak. Our brain gets overwhelmed and without a sense of direction, we go statue again. We ruminate, and we tend toward sitting in our "cubes" and either doing nothing, or doing nothing new.

We STOP. We wait for the leader to tell us the way forward. They rarely do. So, mindlessly we continue to do what we've always done even when deep inside we know it's not working. And, oftentimes we go further. We allow our brain to forecast the future and it tends to catastrophize when given an overwhelming problem and little to no direction home. Yikes. Back to our Air Force pair of num's to recall.

Here are the numbers.

98.6

3

The USAF reminds it's workers of these two numbers over and over again. Here's what they mean.

98.6, as you already know, is our optimum core body temperature. When it gets below 88 you can't think clearly and when it drops below 82, you're toast. They teach their team to do what's necessary to remember techniques to keep warm. Here's one. Consume sugar even if it's cold. Sugar is the best ignitor of heat. Choose sugar over coffee, tea, or alcohol. Is that sweet or what?

3 is a little more complicated. They refer to this as the Rule of 3.

You cannot survive:

  • 3 seconds without spirit and hope.
  • 3 minutes without air.
  • 3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions.
  • 3 days without water.
  • 3 weeks without food.
  • 3 months without companionship or LOVE.

Here's the BTL AND...

To live out your OPUS while traveling your builder's journey, please remember this:

Your CORE temperature needs to feel like fire. As you pay attention to what gives you energy along this journey we call life, you can significantly improve your chances of writing your masterpiece. Step one is realizing what gives you energy the moment you are doing it. We refer to these as discovering your LOVE's. We ask our clients to write this in the form of their love to's. Very cool. Great lives are always lived by someone that discovers their passions and falls in LOVE in work and life. This is step one...

3 numbers we remind our family, friends, and clients are as follows:

  • 12 Essentials of Personal Excellence
  • 8 Essentials of Leading Teams
  • 4 Essentials of Leading Leaders

12 8 4 powered by 2 is our framework for building CORE centered confidence, Communities with chemistry, and Continuity with contentment. These fortunate few live lives that represent their masterpiece. Their teams are inspired communities of people that are building deep trust and tasting what it's like to be in flow. They build the next generation of leaders before they need them and understand why this is best. These, home grown leaders, carry the vision forward and make it clearer during their time. The team outlasts it's founder and continues on with uncommon alignment, engagement, and energy. The Leader looks back at this legacy with contentment. Very cool.

98.6

3

And, you're BTL CORE on fire. We'll call this you're Air Force three. Remember these and you'll be flying.

Good....


Like this article? You'll love Heartbeat International's Insitutes for Center Effectiveness, which features on-site training from the Built To Lead team in the Leadership Track. Registration is open today for Insitutes, which takes place Sept. 29-Oct. 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Click here to learn more.

Behold Thy Kingdom

by Jor-El Godsey

From Take Heart | Volume 2, Issue 11

final logoAs the season of Advent unfolds and the focus on the birth of our Savior sharpens, the reality of this Scripture, like a diamond held up to the light, reveals multiple facets.

Behold. Be aware. Observe. Consider. This is the first step for us. We must open our eyes to see what is already at hand. The busyness of our schedule, the volume o f our workload, the needs of the ministry all can conspire to crowd our vision and actually shrink our awareness of anything but the urgent. It may take a moment to step away from the inbox, set aside the volunteer schedule, wait to review the financials, and simply focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing.

The Kingdom of God is all that He is and all that He controls. Think about that for a moment. Where is He not King? To what places does His reign not extend? Perhaps there are regions of our hearts and issues that have yet to be yielded to His Lordship, but He is certainly present even there, just as He is present in our ministry and among His people.

Indeed, the Kingdom “is in your midst,” right where you are. Truly, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of your staff meeting and each shift of volunteers. The King is with you during your event planning and while you stare at the blank page that awaits your monthly appeal letter. The Holy Spirit is present when you see the red numbers on the financials. He knows your pain and your tears.

The kingdom of God is even there with you in a board meeting (whether or not every board member has read the reports in advance!). He often speaks through this group that is assembled for the care and concern of the work that He has inspired. Whether you’re the executive director, board chair, treasurer, counselor, or administrative assistant, He, and His kingdom, is in your midst.

The Best of Practices

By Jor-El Godsey

Remember when calling a center “Crisis Pregnancy Center” represented a widely accepted “best practice”?

Best practices, as defined at BusinessDictionary.com, are “methods and techniques that have consistently shown results superior than those achieved with other means, and which are used as benchmarks to strive for.”  PRC’s have adopted varied practices over the years.  Some flowed from moral or ethical considerations, others were informed by results or intuition.  Hopefully, positive results followed all these practices.  But have all these practices been subjected to rigorous comparison to “other means”?  That is a critical step to specifically defining a best practice.

Any packaged “best practice” should be evaluated in light of the overall mission. This should include understanding the client who is the mission’s target, as well as the vision of the organization and its own definition of success.  Variations between organizations, even programs within organizations, suggest that some, perhaps, many practices can’t be applied in the same way from organization to organization with the same effectiveness.

Best practice is more often a high-sounding buzzword for promotional material than an objective, empirical reality.  It’s vital to analyze the foundation of any claim involving a best practice.  For example in focus testing of the name “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” our target clients’ responses were weak.  As a result, the term “crisis” has largely been eliminated from elements of client marketing in favor of new language with broader appeal.

Practices can certainly be good, effective, productive, healthy and even excellent. In time, these may even prove to be best!  Until that time, some practices are really just common sense, conventional wisdom, and even basic standards.

 

Taking the Long View

by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President, Ministry Services

(from Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 1)

A year ending with a zero is a great time to look back at the last time that occurred – 2000 – the unforgettable “Y2K.” Think of all that’s transpired in your organization since 2000. Remember where you were during the dawn of the new millennium. Take note of how different the ministry, the movement, and even the mission appeared to be then. The look back can reveal a journey of challenges and triumphs, victories and setbacks, celebrations and sorrow.

Here’s a question: from the vantage point of 2000, what view did you see out there on the 2010 horizon? What decisions made then are producing dynamic results now for you, your mission, and the movement? What plans were set down then but have yet to come to fruition? How is 2010 different for your community, your peer counseling, and your commitment to the mission?

This year of 2010 is a good time to look forward to the next ten years and begin to develop a “2020 Vision.” Crafting and casting a vision with the year 2020 in mind can help leaders to see beyond the tyranny of the urgent and formulate a vivid picture that can serve to guide the organization well. In clarifying your “2020 Vision,” there are five key concepts to consider:

  1. Positioning versus Planning – “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” The saying holds true for short-range (one to three-year) planning but can break down over a longer period. Pull out your written plans from 2000. How do the plans from 2000 match the 2010 reality? Of course, planning is simply not possible for some things. A worldwide economic downturn was hardly on anyone’s radar looking back just to 2005 or 2006. But those who positioned themselves well financially (a success that involves -- at the least -- some core planning)– with reserve funds, low or no debt, broad donor base and/or conservative budgeting – have had more leeway to adapt to financial crisis. True, perfect planning requires perfect predictions so only God’s Plan is perfect. Still, good positioning financially, organizationally, relationally, and spiritually can enable positive results even in unexpected environments.
  2. Message versus Method – In 2000, communication methods like I-Pod, Youtube, and Facebook didn’t exist. Today, the methods for marketing and ministry must adapt to account for changes in our target audiences and the culture that influences them. In the midst of these changing methods, the message of pregnancy help work remains constant (even eternal): Christ-centered, compassionate, life-affirming care for those who are challenged by an unintended pregnancy. This core message is carrying the pregnancy help movement to new heights of acceptance even outside the pro-life realm. Our opposition’s deployment of legislative maneuvers and slanderous attacks reveals how effective our message (with varying methods) has been.
  3. Discerning versus Deciding  Any look ahead must involve spiritual discernment. Pregnancy help work is hard. In fact, this work takes more than what we bring to it. It requires the help of the One who called us to it. We desperately need the active involvement of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of the work – especially looking ahead. Prayer – personal and corporate – is a necessary action item to discern what 2020 will look like for the organization including those who lead the mission and fulfill it.
  4. Innovation versus Insulation – A glance back 30+ years shows how much the pregnancy help ministry has grown and changed. Innovation and entrepreneurship were hallmarks of the pioneers who have labored to advance this work. External and internal challenges tempt us to insulate against uncomfortable changes, entice us to formalize the familiar, and lure us to scoff at anything that’s not “the way we’ve always done it.” Over emphasis on “playing it safe” with static processes, antiquated tools, and outdated methods will not serve a mission that faces dynamic transition. Good practices are a “must.” Reliance on stale practices can make us too soon obsolete. Finding the right balance of the tried, the true, and the new is truly a gift from the Holy Spirit.
  5. Leadership versus Management – The mission continues to require leadership at every level and in every aspect. Leadership is different from management. While management is necessary for efficiency, leadership is critical for effectiveness. The pregnancy help movement will see major transitions in leadership over the next ten years. (Yes, even more change than we’ve already seen.) Leaders must nurture leadership in others and try to prepare others to hear the call of God to service. We nurture leadership in others by the example of our own stewardship, the practice of Christian principles, and intentionally mentoring the next generation of leaders. A vivid “2020 Vision” will require new leaders, along with managers, to push the envelope, deepen the impact, and maximize ministry.

As your 2010 unfolds, take time to plan a “2020 Vision” session. Whether in a dedicated meeting of a few hours or a discussion that unfolds over many months, the important thing is to take the time. Take time to sow seed that will flourish for those who will take up the mantle in 2020. Your decisions today will be their harvest then, so take the long view.

 

Out of Control: Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out

by Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams

(from Take Heart Volume 1, Issue 8)http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51C527GRH0L._SL500_AA240_.jpg

Do you ever feel out of control? Are you too often over scheduled, over committed, or over tired?

The title of Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams’ book, Out of Control Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out, is a mouthful. But don’t let that fool you! In this book, Young and Adam give us practical insights that are straightforward along with techniques that go right to the heart. They describe how to recognize the lies that feed our out-of-control lifestyles. They give help in rediscovering the power of full engagement through periodic disengagement -- also known as rest! They map out a road to explore deep insights by learning how to choose the life God designed for each of us.

I especially appreciated that the authors of this book did not shame the readers for the way we have been living. They empower us to make changes that will revolutionize our lives so that we maximize our most valuable resources of time and energy.

Reviewed by Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services

Click here to order a copy...

Read more from this edition of Take Heart.

 

From smart decisions to wise leadership

by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President

From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 3

“For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).

In this age of information, the average leader is awash with details.  The great task of most days is wading through data to assemble, assimilate, and assign value to meaningful information.  But information by itself, without context, isn’t particularly helpful.  It’s likely just trivia.

Information must be organized into meaningful constructs to become knowledge. Knowledge becomes understanding when we find relevant application. Wisdom is manifested in how information, knowledge, and understanding are handled. Wisdom involves judgment, sensitivity, tact, and often, timing.

Where there is no choice, the exercise of wisdom is limited.  It is when we recognize multiple choices, possibilities, or actions that wisdom can become our friend and ally.  Judging between choices and possibilities leads us to questions about what we know, how we know it, and if we know enough.

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. - Francis Bacon

Wisdom often involves balancing the need to gain more information with the available resources (including time) necessary to make an informed decision.

Besides information, there are other wisdom elements that come into play such as sensitivity to those involved or affected. The wise leader works to involve to some degree the stakeholders in the decision-making process.  That could be in the form of a single brainstorming session or, full-on collaborative planning process.  Even the most visionary thinker can have blind spots. Actively seeking the input of others, within reason, can minimize these as well as strengthen acceptance of the outcome.

The wise leader also factors the impact of the decision on others.


Once a decision is made, it is the responsibility of the Christian leader to use the most compassionate means to treat those affected and to support them... - Kurt Senske, Executive Values

There must always be sensitivity to the fact that, even with the best of intentions, some people may be negatively affected. Therefore, the best decisions will include appropriate tactfulness in implementation. Tact is also important in communicating the decision. Crafting vivid, warm, vision-focused language can tactfully define a decision for all involved. 

More than sensitivity and tact, wisdom seeks a process that honors all involved. Hard decisions, even those with difficult short-term consequences, can be implemented with this in mind.

A good decision, implemented in an untimely fashion, can produce negative results.

Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time. - Theodore Roosevelt

Wisdom involves timing for many reasons – maximizing return on investment, minimizing negative impact, speed to achieve expected results, slow implementation allowing others to adjust, etc.  Tough decisions can require difficult steps that involve short term pain. But those difficult steps can be accomplished well.

Fortunately, wisdom isn’t just an innate quality reserved for a few. The book of Proverbs consistently implores us to seek and pursue it. Wisdom is promised by the Lord. Those serving in Christian ministry, at whatever level, should consistently pray for wisdom in all endeavors – personal, professional, and organizational.

“For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright…” (Proverbs 2:6-7).

Adapted from Heartbeat International’s foundational training manual, GOVERN Well™

 

The Grace of God's Faithfulness

grace 

Grace Chanda Swala was on the verge of giving up.

Having become executive director for Mansa Silent Voices in Zambia just a year ago, Grace and her family had laid the comfort of living in their own home on the altar, hoping to raise support for the fledgling center by renting out their home.

But by the time late July rolled around, and the Africa Cares for Life conference along with it, Grace was on the brink of losing heart.

Her heart burdened for the women and children in her community, and her spirit all but crushed under the weight of financial stress and worry, the five-day bus ride from Zambia to Durbin, South Africa, seemed like an eternity.

Would her center ever reach and rescue the women she passed by on the street every day? Could her ministry thrive under such tight constraints and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?

Would Grace and her family face financial ruin because of their selfless sacrifice on behalf of women and babies in Mansa?

Meanwhile, as Grace traveled the five days from Mansa to Durbin, grace was traveling halfway across the world to meet her, as Heartbeat International’s Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell arrived for a full week of speaking and teaching at the conference.

Betty’s week started with a visit to Pregnancy Resource Centre, a maternity home in Durbin, and followed up with an in-depth day on fundraising all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.

While teaching two sessions on Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program early in the week, Betty delivered two keynotes to the 80-plus person conference, which included representatives from three African nations.

“Vision came through as a major theme at this conference,” Betty said. “These friends face so many hardships we don’t here in the U.S., or even most parts in the west. It blew me away to hear from each organization about the problems they deal with: HIV, high crime rates, and even personal safety at risk on a day-to-day basis, and yet they keep at their work in spite of all these obstacles.”

“Africa Cares for Life did a superb job with this conference, and so much of the credit goes to Shanno Enoch, who was running her first conference as Executive Director,” Betty said. “That group is such an encouraging example of what true learners and servant-leaders look like.”

As the conference, “New Beginnings… Bountiful Harvest,” progressed, leaders like Grace were refreshed, encouraged and better equipped to hold fast to the Gospel of Life in spite of the daunting challenges they face every day.

For Grace, the conference truly proved to be a new beginning. As she boarded the bus back to Mansa, prepared for five days en route home, Grace reveled in the encouragement, instruction, and fellowship that had left her rejuvenated, and freshly ready to pursue her God-given call.

Grace also reflected on God’s faithfulness to provide a harvest. Even after a hard year of working the Zambian soil.


by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant

 

 

Getting Good Outcomes: More or Better?

 

by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President

Probably the most common question asked when center leaders get together is, “How many unique clients do you see?”

Presumably, the higher the client number, the better the outreach. And it seems to follow, the better the outreach, the better the outcomes. But does this really reveal the whole picture? The answer in a word... hardly.

Yes, more client numbers generally suggests there are actually more “outcomes.” But does it naturally follow that those outcomes are “better”?

The answer to this question requires a deeper look, beyond focusing on total client numbers, and more closely evaluating the outcomes they represent. We have to ask, “What outcomes are we representing?”

Do we count a last known intention after one visit the same as that of a client we’ve seen several times throughout her pregnancy?

How do we qualify discussions relative to spiritual interactions? As faith-motivated ministries, we recognize the context of a life-and-death decision is every bit as spiritual as specifically choosing to follow Christ. Do we count both as equal in light of our mission?

Forty-plus years into the pregnancy help ministry, we all stand on the backs of entrepreneurs who blazed the trail before us. Those courageous folks—some of whom are still very active in our ministry today—tackled challenges like getting real-time pregnancy test results (before the easy tests were available) and getting listed in the Yellow Pages.

These pioneers learned to successfully draw someone who was not looking for their services (even though they desperately needed it), and that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our movement, as we push into the new electronic marketing frontiers and mobile device client intake.

With that, we must continually make room for the intrapreneurs among us—those who may not push the envelope per se, but who work to maximize their ministry’s effectiveness. Intrapreneurs spend time on process, protocol and efficiency (not to be confused with effectiveness).

These in turn help serve better outcomes as well as more outcomes. Pushing into new territory is important, but not to the exclusion of developing the territory we are already in. Thankfully, God provides those with temperaments fit for the task.

Take up the task of becoming a pregnancy help movement Intrapreneur today. You can begin by taking one more look at how you evaluate your outcomes.

What does true success look like?

 
by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President

Before you break out the mission statement, ministry tag-line or branded sound-bite, let’s look past today’s pundits’ and consultants’ definition of success.

Let’s see what the “Owner’s Manual” has to say about success. After all, if we are a Christian ministry, or simply Christians ministering, we should understand what the Bible has to say about success.

The New International Version has only a couple dozen occurrences of the word “success” (a few dozen more if we add “successor,” “successive,” etc.), and all of them are in the Old Testament.

When success is the subject of the verse, we see two distinct patterns. First, success is something that comes from the Lord, like Nehemiah 2:20: “I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success...’” Second, success is a reward for partnering/cooperating with the Lord, like we find in 2 Chronicles 26:5b: “As long as [King Uzziah] sought the LORD, God gave him success.”

Notice also that success noted in the examples above can be both corporate (“give us”) and individual (“gave him”). And again, success is noted as a gift from the Lord.
Although the New Testament has no direct references to “success,” there are two themes that seem to indicate success among believers. These two, like the Old Testament references, are indicative of working and receiving from God.

1. Faithfulness. In 1 Corinthians 4:2, the Apostle Paul explains, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Our Lord asks us to be full of faith, particularly faith He will accomplish what He desires, both in and through us.

2. Fruitfulness. In the Gospel of John (15:8), Jesus states, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Fruit, ostensibly good fruit, is also an indicator of our relationship to God and our faith in Him. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) that bring glory to Him and advance His kingdom (in our hearts and elsewhere).

So, in our work today, success is more than any “outcome” (that word only shows up once... in The Message) related to our mission. Positive outcomes are excellent and to be celebrated as one measure of success. But as both ministers and ministries, our success must include faithfulness to the mission—even in the face of opposition—and fruitfulness where we count the victories of those who embrace life, and life everlasting.

As you take stock of the year just past, look back a little further. Rick Warren says we “overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and yet underestimate what we can do in a decade.”

Look back over the last decade (or more) as a minister and a ministry, and celebrate the success of faithfulness and fruitfulness.

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