When it comes to ministry we are always tempted to look for the results of our efforts, or the success of the ministry. We see success in numbers and we cannot help but count and compare.
But is this the way God measures success? What is His focus?
In John 6:66, the apostle writes, "After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him." Jesus had continued preaching the same message, but He began losing some of His following. If we were to look at this with human eyes today, we would say that He must not be teaching the truth, or He needs to do something different to attract the youth. But did Jesus change His message? Did He change His style? No, because He does not measure success the way we do. He is not focused on the same things as us.
St. Paul provides a fuller explanation. He says, "Your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3) Hidden. That is to say, you cannot see it. We cannot see who has faith, and who acts like they have faith. We cannot see these deep spiritual things, and thank God that they are hidden from us. But if they are hidden, then we are not supposed to focus on them.
What then should we focus on, if not results?
The answer is Service. Focus on Service. Focus on the serving, not on the result of the serving. Serve your neighbour. Serve your friends and your family. Serve your Lord, and let Him take care of the results. After all as St. Paul says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth."
This new focus on service frees us from the concerns of success. We can freely serve knowing that the Lord will bring growth as He sees fit. Thanks be to God, that He gives us the opportunity to serve in freedom.