I am persuaded that all those who are used by God to accomplish His will pay attention to the outcome of their effort. They are focused on results. What did God ask me to do?What has come to pass because of my efforts? What is different because of last year’s ministry? Is anything improved because of my contribution? Did the outcome I worked for get achieved or not? Is the community I serve built up by my contribution? Are there any results evident because of my stewardship? Am I focused on the right things?
For those, like me, raised up in the old faithful church, a measure of our faithfulness to Jesus Christ is to be found in the results of our effort to spread the kingdom of God. Indeed the catechism of my youth taught me that I was to “work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” To not do so was to fail in my Christian duty. But what if I worked, prayed, and gave last year, but there was no tangible evidence that the kingdom was spread? What if there were no real results?
You might say to me: “How can we know?” I would have to admit that many of the advances of the kingdom are hidden from our eyes. Only God sees them all. But God uses human beings to accomplish His will. In general, there is no human effort we ever engage in that cannot be measured. If we decide to lose weight this year, we will weigh ourselves regularly, and at the end of the year we will know if our resolve produced results. Results will mean we lost weight. If we set out to learn a new language, the year end will reveal our progress. We have learned to speak it, at least a little. What then are we to look for when we are thinking about the results that advance the kingdom? What are the results God is looking for?
For many years I was complicit in a great deal of organized church activity that did not even ask this question, but no longer. The Lord of the Church interrupted the path of my ministry career, in 1988, by challenging me to the primacy of making disciples. He showed me that there was one absolutely clear evidence of kingdom advance: you will see men and women you have poured your life into, those you have helped become faithful followers of Jesus, pouring their lives into others. You will see them reproducing new faithful followers of Jesus. This is the result that you are praying to see. These are the results that alone give you joy. This is what you are working for. This is the will of God for you.
In the Final Command of the Risen Lord the outcome is declared to be “disciples of all nations.” This is measurable. No vast amount of money in a church budget, no striking new buildings, no attractive new program, no fine preaching, no wonderful youth program, no great worship, no big conference, no wonderful music team, nothing can substitute for what God wants. The only result that matters is another disciple. Are you getting this result from your efforts? Is this not the result God wants?
As we begin this New Year, can we all pray to make this our desire. To want the results that God wants?
— Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General