I was recently asked what defines ministry success for me? Is success being liked by everyone? Having everyone get along? Everyone saved? Everyone’s needs met? Having a lot of money? So I have spent time thinking about what the Bible says about success and I think there are three “F”s of success to consider… Fruit, Feedback, and Fuel.
Years ago I had the privilege of working on a farm. Whether we were planting or harvesting, ultimately everything we did all year was to have a good crop. The same is true in our organization. The Bible says, “Every tree is recognized by it’s fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers” Luke 6:44. People do not seek out prickly, upset, or hurtful people. The Bible says we can grow in the fruit of the Spirit, becoming more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, full of the goodness of God, faithful, gentle, and long suffering. We will be successful if we communicate the FRUIT of the Spirit.
When we were harvesting we would have to stop to unload when the combine was full. We were receiving feedback from the machine. Some farms have a grain cart so they unload while moving. The combine driver and the driver of the grain cart have to be able to communicate and listen to each other, and the cart has to be perfectly positioned under the combine spout or there will be grain all over the ground. The cart driver can be confident he’s doing well, but if the combine stops for a rock and the cart driver doesn’t listen, grain will be spilled. Often times in a position of leadership, we feel really sure we know which way to go which leaves no room to listen to others. However God never meant for this to be a one man show. He intended it to be a body with many parts. The eye cannot say to the hand, “ I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 1 Co 12:21. We will be successful if we listen to FEEDBACK.
If the weather is good and we can unload on the go, the only thing that stops the harvest are the needs of the machinery. While Air Force One can fuel on the go, our tractors and trucks have to stop for fuel. Each morning we would spend an hour greasing and fueling the equipment. Often late in the day we would have to take a break and refuel. Sometimes we would have to stop to attend to a breakdown. I’m so thankful the farmer doesn’t have to pick each piece of grain or carry it all to the elevator by himself. So he’s willing to stop and make sure the equipment has what it needs. The Bible says God gave (church leaders) to prepare and equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith Eph 4:12 We will be successful if we take time to FUEL others, preparing, equipping, and supporting those who serve with us.
May we experience ministry success as we grow in Fruit, Feedback, and Fuel.