Brandon Hatmaker
A New Metric for Success
by Brandon Hatmaker on March 6th, 2013

This is the first post in a series of blogs focused on church leadership. It is based on a chapter from Barefoot Church called "A New Metric For Success":
This summer my eight-year-old discovered a new love for fishing. Any given day you’d find him ankle deep in mud at the local pond with a pole, a worm, and a prayer. It’s amazing how much time he would spend out in the heat staring at a bobber floating across the water. And it was fun watching him discover unconventional ways in trying to catch a fish without ever having to touch a worm.
While he was smitten with the idea of catching a fish, he had developed a pretty serious resistance to both putting on the bait and touching the fish. In the angler world, this is a problem.
So he developed new strategies for fishing when I wasn’t there to help. Often this meant combining tackle not designed to go together and usually ended with a knotted mess of fishing line. When I’d get home for the day, I could always tell he went fishing by the presence of his mud-layered fishing pole sitting on the front porch needing to be restrung. I was bailing him out constantly.

One Saturday morning we were fishing, going through the regular routine. I baited the hook and I threw out the line for him. When a fish bit, I set the hook and handed the pole to him, he reeled it in, and then I removed the hook from the fish’s mouth.
The next time I tried to let him do it. But I still ended up rebaiting the hook, throwing out the line again, helping him set the hook, and handing him the pole so he could reel in the fish. After watching him stumble for about five minutes, he asked me to remove the hook from the fish’s mouth. We did this all morning.
My line never hit the water.
When we got home, Jen asked how we did. With a grin on his face he proudly reported that he had caught eight fish and that Dad had caught exactly zero. Noticing the strange face I was suddenly making, he turned to me and said, “That’s okay, Dad, you’ll catch a fish someday.”
Our perception is our reality. You’ve probably heard that before. However, our perceived reality is not always the truth. We perceive through the lens of biasness, woundedness, insecurity, selfishness, and an inflated opinion of ourselves.
We know that nothing valuable in ministry happens without God’s movement, that our ability is through the Spirit, and that we’re called by his grace. He orchestrates movement, provides resources, and crosses our paths with other people. He overcomes our inadequacies, enables and empowers us to respond to their need, and yet we often claim the glory.
Glory cannot be shared. Either we get it or God gets it.

Success should first and foremost be determined by who gets the glory for spiritual movement. Too often we give credit to a program, hard work, or creative insight and chalk up every unexplainable victory to good leadership. There are some glaring faults to this logic. And it exposes a real deficiency in the way we view both ourselves and the church.
We must learn to view success as God views success. Since his ways are higher than our ways, only then will we truly give him credit. Until then we keep it, and it has no eternal value. We may say we do what we do to his glory, but if we’re not doing what the Bible says to do, it’s
still about us.
Jesus taught that every ounce of value found in obedience, sacrifice, and discipline hangs on the command to love God and to love our neighbor (Matthew 22: 39 – 40). It only makes sense to view success through the lens of both.

We fall short personally when our pursuit is to be “first” among our Christian onlookers. Organizationally, we fall short by our internal focus and neglect of those on the outside. How can we love our neighbor and neglect the very things tied to how they perceive us? If we were to truly view success by our faithfulness to Jesus’ command to put others first, it would change our posture to the outside world.
Reggie McNeil reminds us in his book Missional Renaissance that externally focused leaders must take their cues from the needs and opportunities of their environment. We have to care what’s going on outside the walls of our church. We must always look for ways to bless and serve our communities. In order to shift our focus, we must shift much of our calendar, resources, and energy to people who are not already a part of our church.
If we’re going to become good news to a broken world, we have to change the way we are viewed by the world. We have to care more about how we measure up to our onlookers than we do our peers. We have to become more externally focused by changing the scorecard based on our impact in the world, not the survivability of our various church forms. “No strategy, tactics, or clever marketing campaign could ever clear away the smokescreen that surrounds Christianity in today’s culture. The perception of outsiders will change only when Christians strive to represent the heart of God in every relationship and situation.” (Gabe Lyons, Unchristian)
The problem is that many church leaders have spent their entire leadership lives in pursuit of building organizations that rise to the apex of church industry standards. “Changing values and motivations is not easy, but nothing less will accomplish this shift (McNeil)." We will not make the shift from an internal focus to an external focus unless we are willing to change the way we view success. We cannot shift the way we do church without shifting the
way we view church.

Excerpted from "Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture" by Brandon Hatmaker

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with no tags


Leave a Comment