Measuring Success (Acts 13)

This week we’ve been studying Acts 13 in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). On Saturday at our leaders meeting/training, I had one of those moments of clarity where the thinking and questioning I’d been doing on my own through the week was exponentially improved when I came together with others and was willing to share. As I expressed my thoughts in response to a specific question — thoughts I’d written down — those very thoughts began to make more sense to me than they’d made when I first recorded them

Then they were quickly finding flight.

It was in our conversation around what the main lesson or principle from Acts 13 might rightfully be. There is usually more than one truth that can be found in a passage of Scripture — more than one lesson to be learned. Because of that, there is always value in hearing what others are thinking in their study. Each of us brings perspective that can help us collectively develop an understanding of the truth which is not changed.

I’d written that — if I were teaching this chapter of Acts — I would want my students to learn that the power of the Gospel (literally, the good news) of Jesus Christ is in the Holy Spirit and not in the one who is called/commissioned to take it and share it.

If I do any ministry work that is supposed to be evangelistic, how do I measure the success of that work?  Generally, by whether or not anyone(s) respond to the Gospel with repentance, trusting in Christ for reconciliation with God. The “more who respond, the more successful the work” that thinking goes.

In fact, I might go so far, when there is not response, to say that I misunderstood the call to do the work in the first place. I blame my lack of success on a wrong turn rather than lack of something else.

Is this a biblical worldview?  Does Scripture teach that when I am doing what I’m called and commissioned to do that I will always experience success in the outcomes that my work is seeking to accomplish?  Does Scripture teach that experiencing those outcomes are measures of God’s blessing and affirmation of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it?

I’m pretty sure that I would have answered these questions the same last year and I do today, but I’m not sure I would have understood my answer as well then as I’m beginning to understand it.

Still, this is a think in progress. I’d love to hear what you think about how we can measure success in the arena of calling.

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