Redefinition of Success

‘… is there any higher priority in every generation than to stop and pray and consider what it means to do the Lord’s work in the Spirit to the exclusion of the flesh? Many important matters press upon us all. But what is more important than that? In the cultural upheaval and intensity of our times, our nation does not need more “successful” churches and ministries making an impact by deploying whatever trendy methods will generate buzz and lure people in and reinforce our already self-exalting lifestyles. When Paul warned the elders in Ephesus about leaders who cultivate a personal following–“to draw away the disciples after them”–Paul called those self-serving leaders “fierce wolves . . . speaking twisted things” (Acts 20:29–30). Any ministry with the wrong kind of attractive power, however much that ministry might be admired, with thousands of people flocking in–that kind of ministry is a total disaster brilliantly disguised as a massive success. If we have to choose–and inevitably every one of us does have to choose–it is better to fail in the weakness of the Spirit than succeed in the power of the flesh. Why? Because even a failure in the Spirit will still play some key role in the real battle being fought in the heavenlies in this generation. But a ministry making it big by the strategies of the flesh makes itself irrelevant to the real cause of Christ in the world today. It is concealing his true glory just as effectively as any adult bookstore, and maybe more so. How could it be otherwise? “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Rom. 8:7).’

-Ray Ortlund

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 (GSIV: Miller: Success, Failure, and Grace;

Church Growth, Planning, and Multiplication;

Ray Ortlund)