What is Success?

We start the school year with visions, dreams, and hopes for what we will accomplish and how God might work.

But the end can look different than what we initially imagined. So how do we know if we are being successful in leading our movement? Here are some things to consider.

Moving from Worldly to Godly Success

  • Do you ask, “We would be more successful if __________ were true?”
  • Do you find yourself discouraged?
  • What types of things represent success in your personal ministry? Why?
  • What do you tend to do when you don’t experience this success you are seeking?

The apostle Paul defines success for himself and his disciple, Timothy, in 1 and 2 Timothy. In these epistles, Paul models a perfect authority, a humble heart, a right role, and a perseverance.

A Perfect Authority

Read 1 Timothy 1:15-17 and 2 Timothy 1:5-12

  • Who does Paul believe God is? What role does God play in Paul’s ministry?
  • What emotions does Paul have regarding his ministry? Why?
  • How can Paul speak of his ministry as a success even while claiming to be a great sinner?
  • What other authorities inform how we define success? What is the result?

A Humble Heart

Read 1 Timothy 1:5, 3:14-15, 6:12-14 and 2 Timothy 1:12, 2:3, 2:15, 4:6-8

  • What reasons does Paul give for why he and Timothy should do ministry?
  • How might these reasons be hard to maintain?
  • What do they reveal about Paul’s view of God? Himself? Those he is reaching?
  • How do you see Paul exhibiting a humble heart?
  • How might pride sneak into our motivation for ministry?
  • What are God honoring motivations for ministry? How does this lead to a humble heart?

A Right Role

Read 1 Timothy 1:3-4, 4:11-16 and 2 Timothy 2:1-3, 3:14-15

  • What specific jobs does Paul give Timothy? How would you categorize these jobs?
  • Why do you think Paul is so specific in Timothy’s instructions?
  • How do these roles help Timothy define success?
  • Are there other things not listed here that we might normally judge our success by?
  • What is your current ministry role? What is not your current ministry role?
  • How does knowing your role help define success for you?

A Perseverance

Read 1 Timothy 4:10, 6:12 and 2 Timothy 2:10, 4:6-8

  • What are some hardships that Paul expects Timothy to encounter?
  • What does Paul challenge Timothy to do in light of those potential hardships?
  • How might Timothy be tempted to respond?
  • Why did Paul consider it worthwhile to persevere?
  • What things tempt you to give up in ministry?
  • What do you need to remember about God when those hardships happen?
  • Why is it worth it for you to persevere?

Godly success comes in having a right authority, a humble heart, a right role, and a perseverance.

This type of success does not guarantee growing numbers, comfortable conversations, or stories to blog about.

But it does cause us to rest in who we are in God’s eyes.

God is in control and we aren’t. We can trust that by taking the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit we can leave the results to God.

A Legacy of Changed Lives

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