I’m paring down my wardrobe in an attempt to be more organized, and I realized that I have a lot of clothes. Well, I knew I did, but when I started counting them…there’s nothing like a number to put things in perspective.
The same can be said for the ministry. Because Jesus fed 5000 with 7 pieces of food, or Peter saved 3000 in 1 day, there are some people who quantify Christian success with numbers too, and that’s such a downer, I’m not gonna lie.
Everything starts revolving around The Number. How many people did you invite to church? How many members does your ministry serve or reaching out to? How many volunteers? How many staff? How many programs? How much money raised?
Even the things that are supposed to be between you and God become about The Number. How many chapters of the Bible did you read? How many hours did you pray? How many days are you fasting? How many times did you witness to the people at work or your neighbors or your family?
And no matter what The Number is, it’s never enough. Then the pressure is on to increase The Number, and I never make it.
It’s true. I’m a failure when the ministry becomes a numbers game. Or when people quantify my personal walk with God, I’m always lacking. I never make The Number, and you know what? It’s okay.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 (ESV).
Numbers do serve a good purpose. They put things in perspective. They can be motivational. They do help quantify success.
But our perspective is not God’s perspective, and our definition of success may not be aligned with God’s definition of success. Sometimes we reach The Number and think we’re successful. Sometimes we don’t reach The Number, no matter how hard we try, and think we’re failures. We focus so much on The Number that we lost our focus on God. We forget how He defines success, and how He sees us.
Proverbs reminds us to trust God with all our heart, even when things don’t make sense. Even when the numbers don’t add up. Even when we can’t seem to find victory. The Word of God reminds us that The Number doesn’t matter. Our numbers don’t matter. With God, the numbers will never add up. He puts 2 and 2 together to come up with a million. He works in ways that astound us and show us that God is God.
And ultimately, God does not want The Number.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV)
What good is meeting all your numbers – every goal and every dream in the ministry and in your life – if you don’t love God?
God doesn’t want your numbers. God wants your heart.