SUCCESS OR FAITHFULNESS?

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV).

Some time ago when I was leading a stewardship seminar among some Christians who were mainly church pastors, I referred to the saying attributed to Mother Teresa: “God has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful.”

One of the pastors at the meeting disagreed vehemently with the statement. He insisted in spite of my explanations that he will be successful in the ministry.

His argument may be right to some extent. However, the primary purpose of the call of God on any Christian in general and any pastor in particular is being faithful to God. Success may come later.

The lyrics of the hymn, “OUR BEST”, composed by Salathial Cleaver Kirk (1847-1917) reminded me of the fact. To be specific, these parts of the hymn reiterate faithfulness above success: “Do then the best you can, not for reward, Not for the praise of men, but for the Lord.” Kirk emphasized doing one’s best, that is, being faithful, without thinking of getting reward or praise of men, that is, success.

This is the sound biblical teaching! In many places, the Holy Bible teaches about being faithful (see Matthew 24:45-46; Luke 16:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:2). Regardless of whether what one is doing is small or great, what matters most is faithfully doing one’s best in it. Even if it seems that people do not appreciate one, one should continue to be faithful in one’s calling or endeavor.

It is a misplacement of priority when one places success above faithfulness because the success of one’s life or ministry depends on God, and He has the prerogative to give it as He likes to anyone. Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians this principle when he told them that in spite of his efforts and those of Apollos, that it is God that brings growth (or success) (see 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Moses also echoed this principle to the Israelites that it is God that brings wealth (or success) (see Deuteronomy 8:18). Paul further said that it is our labour, “our best” (in Kirk’s words), or our faithfulness that God will reward (see 1 Corinthians 3:9), not our success.

Twice, in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, the master of the servants said “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things…” (verses 21, 23). In spite of the varied successes of the servants, it was their faithfulness that was commended, not their success.

The reason is that God is more mindful of our faithfulness, not our success. No wonder, Paul emphasized it: “…it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV).

God has not called anyone to be successful, but to be faithful. If success comes out of one’s faithfulness, that is good. However, remember that God will not reward success, but faithfulness. Focus on faithfulness rather than on any form of success. Do your best to be faithful.

Prayer Point: Pray that you will focus more on faithfulness, instead of success, in your calling, ministry, and other life endeavours.

Source: Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor)

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