The Hall of Fame

As a kid I used to dream of playing professional sports like most young boys.  I was an Atlanta Braves fan  – not because they were a great team – but because thanks to Ted Turner and a great contract with TBS, I could watch them play almost every day!  Ozzie Virgil, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Sid Bream and Dale Murphy were my heroes.  Yesterday was a big day for the baseball world as some of my heroes had the chance to be inducted in to the Hall of Fame.  If you receive that honor, there is no question.  No one can refute it; you are a SUCCESS!  Some of the biggest names in the history of baseball were on the ballot.  Roger Clemmons, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa! WOW, what a line up! Not to mention my personal favorite, Dale Murphy!  Much to my surprise, NO ONE was inducted.

What gives? The big names with the biggest stats were not elected because of their lack of character.  There were too many unanswered questions about steroid use.  The other guys who really didn’t have the big stats did have incredible character, but that wasn’t enough to get them into the Hall of Fame either!

So what truly defines success?  Is it money, fame, possessions, trophies or great stats?  In my world of the pastorate, is it a big church building or your name on the list of the fastest growing churches in America?

Maybe it depends on what stage you are at in life?  When we are younger we default to the position that having a lot of stuff makes you successful.  However the older I get, the less success is about big houses and nice cars as it is great character and genuine integrity.

Maybe it depends on what you have?  We often seem to think when people have something that we don’t, that makes them successful, and we always seem to come up on the short end of the stick.  It’s frustrating because our world is driven by success, but the scale that determines our worth seems to be sliding.  It’s hard to hit a target that’s moving!

When we started Northpark Church, I wanted so desperately for the church to be successful and I wanted to be successful as the pastor.  My goal was 500 people on launch day.  Within the first ten years, we would be a church of 10,000.  In my mind, we lived in a city of a million people.  Not only would it be possible, it wouldn’t be that difficult.

It didn’t happen. Not even close. I can’t tell you how many days; no matter how awesome our service was, no matter how many salvation experiences we had, no matter how many people were baptized, I still felt like a failure.

I wanted the New Spring experience.  I wanted the Elevation experience. I wanted to be the next Craig Groeschel.  I wanted my face on the cover of a book at Barnes and Noble like Joel Osteen! I wanted to wear skinny jeans, a deep V, and black-rimmed glasses at MY conference.

All of those churches have experienced incredible, miraculous growth.  Although we all pray, plan and dream for those experiences, they aren’t the norm.  However, when we go to their conferences and see what’s happening in their church, their story becomes OUR gauge of SUCCESS. When it doesn’t happen that way, we think we’ve done something wrong.

We ask a lot of questions like, “How many people attended on Sunday.” “What were the offerings like?”  Those are important questions and are indicators that require our attention.  However, they are NOT the gauges for our SUCCESS. I must constantly be reminded that the God that is writing the story for pastors like Perry Noble and Steven Furtick is the same God that is writing my story and He’s writing your story too.

At the end of the day, there are a couple of questions that TRULY matter and I believe these determine ultimate success.

What has God called me to do?
Am I being faithful and obedient to that call of God on my life? 

Here’s the thing, we may never end up in the Hall of Fame, on the cover of Forbes Magazine, or as the pastor of a mega church.  It’s quite possible we will never hear a single person say, “good job!”  But we can be sure that if we are asking ourselves those two important questions and putting actions behind our answers, when we stand before Jesus on that glorious day, we will hear Him say, “Well done thy good and faithful servants.” And that beats the Hall of Fame any day!

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