The following has been contributed by a worker in the Arab World.
I’ve written about defining success before, but I come now with some fresh perspective from an amazing little book entitled, “The Choice.”
There are two options in terms of setting goals to accomplish outcomes: (1) setting goals towards you-centered outcomes, or (2) setting goals towards Kingdom-centered outcomes. But let’s not stop there. We can operate in the Spirit or we can operate from our flesh. Therefore, there are additionally two ways we can pursue those outcomes: (1) you-centered to achieve a given outcome, or (2) Christ-centered to produce an outcome. Let us ensure we are in a Christ-centered pursuit of Kingdom outcomes. Both our ways and our means should be Him-oriented.
A wise older friend in the OPEN Network says that people don’t do what you expect, they do what you inspect. Another way to think about this is that we measure what we value. Therefore, your people will know what you value by what you measure. When we think about this, it could feel daunting. What are you measuring? Is it for Christ-centered goals or your own, and is it toward Kingdom-outcomes or your own?
Gary Hoag, R. Scott Rodin, and Wesley K. Willmer wrote “The Choice” to help us think through exactly these things. They lay out a helpful framework here:
You can see the beautiful contrast between chasing Kingdom outcomes in a Christ-centered way and taking the path far more often traveled. If you find yourself production-driven and expansion-focused, beware! Rather than striving for these things Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness and production and expansion will be given to you as well (assuming they are part of the “all” that He meant :P).
When we define success in terms of numbers, we are in danger of using earthly-oriented metrics. After all, Jesus said that the gate is narrow that leads to life and few will find it (Matthew 7:14). We should be focused on finding those few rather than chasing after the many.
In a similar vane of thinking, when we count success as achieving the results we desired we are in danger of managing people unbiblically. Jesus managed people relationally, the way He ran His shop was in a relationship-oriented way rather than a task-oriented way.
Lastly, to take a utilitarian view of resources is to view money too importantly. Rather than faithfully using what we have, with a scarcity mindset we hoard and create worldly-based strategies to maximize our cash flow or our savings. We need to realize that we serve an infinite God of infinite resources and thus carry a mindset of abundance rather than of scarcity. Our goal is then to steward His resources His way.
I hope this injects some fresh thinking into your own internal debates about how to set goals and achieve outcomes. As we listen to Him, we will inevitably do things differently than those around us. Let’s take the path less traveled.