When Ministering Ends In Failure
How do you measure “success” in ministering to others? Is “success” in sharing the gospel only when the individual you’re talking to responds by crying out to the Lord for salvation? Is “success” on a Sunday Morning only when every pew is filled and every offering plate is full? Is “success” when you invite a friend to a Sunday service or church gathering only when they attend? Is “success” when you give of yourself only when you are immediately and noticeably rewarded for that service? One of the toughest aspects of ministering to others is when the outcome or results don’t go according to our expectations or our definitions of success. When this happens we have the tendency and temptation to deem these ministry opportunities as failures and wonder, “Should I have even bothered?” When our efforts fall short of our own goals or “successful” ends it is important that we remember important truths from Scripture.
First, when service seemingly ends in failure, we must remember that God does not need us. In Acts 17:25, Paul proclaimed, “…nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things…”. God is not dependent on us to carry out His work. Christ has not left the building and preservation of His Church up to His people. He said, “I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Our God in heaven does whatever He pleases (Ps. 115:3). His Spirit works where He wishes (John 3:8). God’s arm is not so weak that it is dependent on our strength to save (Is. 59:1). The salvation of others and the production of fruit is all a matter of His intervention, His strength, and His grace (2 Cor. 4:6; John 15:5). Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. Sometimes our seeming failure is an important reminder that we are weak, we are dependent, and we are in need of God’s work – not the other way around! It is important in this to also remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours (Is. 55:8-9). There are times that we can’t see what He is doing or we cannot understand it. There are times He is planting, times He is watering, and times when the seed falls on one type of soil to life and the other to death – all to His end and glory (2 Cor. 2:16; Matt. 13:18-23). It is His will that He is working all things according to, not ours (Eph. 1:11). We can take comfort in this knowing that in everything He will accomplish what He has determined and He will use all of it for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28-29).
So, what does this mean for us? It means we continue to be faithful in what He’s called us to. We carry out the Great Commission, we persevere in love and good deeds, we don’t forsake our assembling together, we continue encouraging one another, we give of ourselves, and we walk in the good works He has prepared for us entrusting all of it (the strength for it, the action, and the results) to Him; for Him to use as He pleases to His glory. This is the ultimate success: His glory (Ps. 115:1) and our motivation in all of this isn’t to meet our own expectations or personal goals but should be as Paul said, “…to be pleasing to Him…” (2 Cor. 5:9).
In Every Seeming Success And Failure – To Him Be The Glory,