"When you measure your own progress by the growth of those around you, we are all certain to prosper."--Forrest E. Mars Jr.
The first time I read this quote I honestly rejected its simple wisdom. I never want to judge my personal progress or professional success by looking around and comparing myself to others. But, somehow this quote stuck in my head, like the catchy jingle for the food chopper you saw on late-night TV, to the point I had to write it down, analyze it, and blog about it. If you look at this quote with a subtle distinction, I think the application of it is quite valuable:
We shouldn't COMPARE our progress to the growth of those around us. But I believe at times we can benefit from MEASURING our progress by the growth of those around us.
It's implied in this quote that we should take responsibility for the success of others in our sphere of influence. We should literally measure our own progress by how we have led others to progress. As youth workers and student pastors, how do we define ministry success?
Attendance numbers are easily measurable. But does that number quantify real discipleship? And, a winter retreat to the ski slopes without an injury is always a good thing. But is that all youth workers point to for markers of success? No broken limbs and high attendance numbers? Just another day in youth ministry, huh?
What if we looked outward for the signs of success?Forget taking an approval poll on your sermon style. And, leave the attendance record out of the equation for a while. Look outward to the people in your sphere of influence.
Three Groups That Measure Your Success
- Volunteers: Your closest companions in ministry should be growing in love for the ministry. Are you doing your part to influence and support their success in ministry? Are you watching for signs of burnout? Are you actively discipling your volunteers?
- Families of Your Teens: Are the hearts of the children being turned back toward their parents? Are the parents empowered to lead the spiritual and emotional education of their teenagers? Are you cheering the parents on and listening to their hearts?
- Church Staff: Are fellow pastors trusting you with more of the duties they once felt only they could handle? Are you supporting the efforts of other ministries besides your own? Do the other staff and pastors clearly understand your goals for ministry and know they can trust you?
Redirect your measure of success with an outward focus on the progress of others in your sphere of influence rather than yourself. After all, "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." --Mark 10:43 This way, we're all certain to prosper.