As I conclude this reminder (in my life and for our church) about what success really looks like, I thank God for men like Kent Hughes. I may never meet him personally, but in this book (and many of his others), God has used him to stamp my life for all eternity. The final two areas he calls success are probably the most attacked areas in our churches today: misinformation has caused many men, women and churches to be spiritual failures while succeeding in the eyes of the world. So rather than reviewing (you can certainly go back and read the previous blogs) I want us to delve right in.
Success is Holiness: God calls us to be holy; this is foundational to all other success. Hughes says: “…there are untold numbers of successful pastors and Christian workers who are abysmal failures. For those of us who would serve God, the truth is inescapable. The pursuit of holiness is essential if we are ever to know anything of real success.” He goes on through the life of Samson and David and tracks their moral failures, and they serve as a great warning to all believers. There is no doubt that holiness is not easy, it involves dying to self not just daily but many times, moment by moment. However, the great truth is that God will help us accomplish this because He demands it. This is where the Word of God and the Spirit of God function in our lives - we can not afford to grow dependant upon our self discipline or high morals because we can all sing along with the great hymn “Come Thou Fount” when the writer says: “prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Everyone of us are but one decision away from total chaos…this is why we must live by the cross, this is why we so desperately need a church to hold us accountable and get involved in our lives!
Success is Attitude: How often I have failed in this area. He tells us the importance of keeping our attitude in check when difficulty arises - how important it is to not get caught up in our situation but to encourage others through theirs. He speaks of jealousy among God’s people and a desire to compare ourselves with others! When Bro. David Miller was here, he and I were speaking of a church where the Pastor has been there for over 20 years, he has taught his people the Word of God, they understand the biblical purpose of the church, they are unified, they are passionate in their evangelism, and while evangelizing they get the Gospel right! I was sharing with Bro. David how I have read some of this Pastor’s writings and how I would love to meet him. This church’s congregation probably has less people than our student ministry… because of this it is safe to say they can’t give the amount we give to missions and they don’t have the resources. But as I have gotten to know about this Pastor and his church, I can say with certainty that this particular church is much more healthy than Trinity at this time. This is not a knock on us, but a clarification of success. This Pastor has had over 20 years to teach the same people from Word of God and has had a generation of people raise their children under his preaching. They are a healthy church, and regardless of what the convention says about them or what the community says about them, they are a successful church because they are persevering in truth.