“Then Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.’” John 5:19 (HCSB)
The way the world defines success is totally different from how God defines it! For the world, success is winning, financial prosperity, fame, being the best, etc. But Jesus says if you want to be the first, become the last and if you want to be great, become a servant (Matthew 20:16, Mark 10:42-45). Not exactly what you would hear from a business consultant. And just because a ministry is large and appears successful doesn’t mean it is successful in God’s eyes!!! Doing whatever it takes (usually meaning compromise), is not God’s strategy!
I believe God’s definition of success is finding out what Jesus is saying, doing and/or feeling, and joining Him! Jesus said He never did ANYTHING apart from the Father. He only did what the Father was doing (John 5:19)! Jesus likewise said we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5)! Paul told us to find out what pleases God and do it (Ephesians 5:12).
Too often we invite Jesus to join us on our adventure! We ask Him to bless what we are doing. But we got that backwards. Jesus is inviting us on the greatest adventure of all, to follow Him. And to do this we must deny ourselves, and pick up our cross, daily (Matthew 16:24). In other words, Jesus invites us to come and die with Him! That is, die to the flesh, to our ways, to the world’s vision and/or to the devil’s temptations!
In fact, Jesus may lead us somewhere, to do something and from the world’s eyes, we may look foolish and a failure. But what matters is our obedience. He may clearly lead us to a new city to start a new business or new ministry, which ultimately dies or “fails” in a few years. And then we feel like we must have heard God wrongly, assuming He would never lead us somewhere only to have us “fail!” But hear this, our success is determined by our obedience, not the results that follow. The fruit is up to God! And usually, it is in our “failures” that we learn and grow the most!
So today, choose to trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on what you see, hear or understand (Proverbs 3:5-6). Remember in the night and darkness, what God said to you in the light! If need be, repent for being discouraged by your apparent failure, and ask God to use everything in your life to draw you deeper into Him!
Ask God to grant you eyes to see what He is doing and the faith/courage to join in. Ask Him to show you any place where you are assessing success or failure based on anything other than Him. Declare to Him that you will obey Him no matter what He says or where He leads, even if from the world’s perspective it looks foolish, weak and a failure. Ask God to expose and rid your church of every place where they assess success by the world’s standard. And declare, may the church in Athens only do what we see Jesus doing in this hour!