the shape of leadership

Roots for Your Fruits

Success in ministry begins with faithfulness

Alan Pastian on December 4, 2018

We live in ambitious times. Our culture celebrates and rewards ambition. Being ambitious to find your purpose isn’t wrong, but striving to obtain possessions and power is. Because when you strive for those things, you miss out on enjoying what you have, where you are and whom you’re with. Success isn’t a matter of how ambitious you are but how faithful you are.

Success will always call out for you. Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition. In our culture, we have a tendency to overvalue 15 minutes of fame and undervalue 15 years of faithfulness. We curate 280 characters on Twitter but don’t cultivate 280 days of character in our lives. Faithfulness is an attribute of God, and a fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness determines success.

Stop trying to measure success by comparing yourself to everyone else. Someone else’s success can’t be yours because their “yes” to God isn’t yours. Success will not always equal the outcome you want in a situation, but your success will always be your “yes” to God.

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure. That’s why it’s important to steward your “now” well because it is training and shaping you for your “next.” Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts diminish the work of God in your life. Grow where you’re planted. Become grounded, and develop a root system.

I was out to dinner with a great friend recently, and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives that are so critical and rarely celebrated. We don’t celebrate the prayer lives of others. We don’t Instagram changing the baby’s diaper in the middle of the night so a tired spouse can get some extra sleep. We don’t Insta-story our devotional lives to show the world we know how to seek God.

What’s underground isn’t as celebrated as what’s above ground: our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things. The reality is, roots precede fruits. Jesus made this point first in John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, your will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

In our culture, we have a tendency to overvalue 15 minutes of fame and undervalue 15 years of faithfulness.

To bear fruit that you will enjoy and that will endure, you need great roots. Stay grounded and focused, and watch God bring your successes to life and build you a future you can trust. Here are seven roots of success:

1. The depth of your success is determined by the quality of the people with you. Success is a team sport; no one ever succeeds alone. Therefore, the impact of your leadership ability is measured by the people attracted to lead alongside you. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

2. Your capacity for success is determined by the courage to take great risks, and the wisdom to know when not to take a risk. It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking, and acquiring wisdom and knowledge, and how you process and order your wisdom.

3. The sustainability of your success lies in the divine tension between having a short memory in the courage department of your mind when you fail, and a having long-term memory in the wisdom department of your mind so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

4. The power of your success is determined by the level of confidence you have in your own ability to complete the mission and the amount of trust you empower others with to help accomplish their mission. The amount of faith you have in God’s ability to cover your weaknesses, as well as fix your failures, is more powerful than you realize. Isaiah 26:3 says God “will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [Him].”

5. The longevity of your success is determined by your ability to reproduce world changers and history makers — people who can carry greatness into the generations you will never see. Its proof is in your ability to empower true greatness in others. Paul told the Corinthians, “Follow my example as I follow the example Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Success is successors, those who come after you and carry your mission beyond you, fulfilling their mission because of you.

6. The strength of your success lies in the grace you display in tough seasons, the level of kindness you give to those who fall short of your standards, and the patience you display when you or others fail the mission.

7. Your success is defined by the faithfulness to your divine call, not in the outcome of your mission. In other words, faithfulness is success because, ultimately, outcomes are determined by God, not you. In Luke 16:10, Jesus reminds us, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”


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