We live in a time where success is very important.  Pastors and church leaders, too, want to be seen as successful.  But just what is success and how do we measure it?  We know how the world measures success: by material wealth and social power.  But is that how Christians serving Jesus’ measure success?  It’s important to know what God sees as successful, for how can we ever hit a target if we don’t know what we are shooting at?  So, what do you say, pastor?  Are you successful?

The standard we use to judge the success of a company or business today is the bottom line, the numbers that show how much profit the company made.   Unfortunately, sometimes we carry that standard over to the church as well.  Many feel that the more people who attend a church and the larger the church budget the greater the church.  That is not how God evaluates churches.

For 35 years I pastored a small church.  At first I felt I must not be a good pastor because the church didn’t get large.  God taught me that the way He evaluates the health of a church has nothing to do with the number of people who attend or how much money it has.  After all, we don’t know the size of a single church in the Bible.  We do know if they are healthy and growing spiritually, but we don’t know their size because to God that isn’t important.  There is nothing wrong with large numbers.  God wants everyone to come to Him so the more we can minister to the better.  But just numbers alone don’t mean God is impressed.

Success isn’t measured by numbers but by faithfulness.  Remember when Jesus was watching people give their money to the temple?  He wasn’t impressed by the large donations the rich made, but only by the very small offering a poor widow gave (Luke 21:1-4).  He looked at her heart and He saw sacrifice, love and faithfulness with what little she had.  That is what God looks for in us as well.

The same is true of Paul.  We may think he was the perfect pastor and everything went well for him but that isn’t the case.  When Paul started a church, he taught the Scriptures and sought to help people grow in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29).  In some churches, like Philippi and Thessalonica, this went well.  But in others like Corinth and Galatia, it did now.  Some churches attacked his leadership, others loyally followed him.  Different churches have different problems.  Some have very complex issues.  Just because a church is healthy now doesn’t mean it will be so in a few years.  The same is true of unhealthy churches as well.  Just because a church seems “successful” (outwardly strong) doesn’t mean it really is or will stay that way. Success is doing the job God gives us to do in a way that brings honor to Him.  At Philippi, Paul did that and experienced much joy for it. At Corinth and Galatia, Paul did the same thing and experienced much heartache.  Success isn’t based on results, but on our faithfully doing our best to serve God in the place He puts us.  God doesn’t look at results, He looks for a faithful heart.

So, remember, it is God who determines success. We cannot measure it because we don’t have the right stick to measure the invisible. Only God can, for God alone sees the whole picture from beginning to end.  The New Testament churches show that a successful church is not without problems but it is a church that solves its problems God’s way.  Problems are for solving, not for ignoring. This is why Paul wrote his letters, both to churches and individuals.  Problems are not necessarily bad. They remind us how much we need God and provide opportunities for God to display His sufficiency.  Success isn’t measured  by numbers but by faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.  But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.  For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore, do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.  Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Remember, we are not responsible for the numbers, but we are responsible to be good stewards of what God has given us and faithfully serve in whatever capacity He puts us.  Are you faithful in your service?  If so, then you are successful in His sight.


Have you wondered what the Bible had to say about a certain subject, but didn’t know where to look?  Perhaps you wanted to read verses helping with discouragement, or find proof that Jesus is God, or promises to use in difficult times, or prove Jesus will be coming back.  I started collecting verses for various topics when I was in Bible college and have been expanding and adding to it over the years.  TOPICAL INDEX OF BIBLE VERSES is now available.  If you’d like a copy, you can download it at and click on “Topical Index of Bible Verses.”  Or you can email me,, and I’ll send you a PDF by email.  We need to turn to God’s Word now more than ever!


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