In the book's intro, Kent Hughes describes a breakdown he suffered in the first few years of ministry. Having been taught 'methods' at seminary, which coupled with prayer and hard work were 'guaranteed' to get results, Hughes was confronted with the fact that his small church wasn't growing.
The young pastor and his supportive wife were forced to re-evaluate their ministry worldview, not least their expectations of what constitutes a successful pastorate. The book lays out what Kent and Barbara discovered as they considered Scripture against their faulty ways of thinking.
Here's their summary of a biblical view of success. It seems an appropriate list to place before any follower of Christ at the outset of another year of Christian life and ministry:
- Success is faithfulness: "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." (1 Cor 4:1-2)
- Success is serving: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave." (Mat 22:25-27)
- Success is loving: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?...'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." (Mat 22:37-38)
- Success is believing: "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Heb 11:6)
- Success is prayer: "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Col 4:2)
- Success is holiness: "Be holy because I am holy." (Lev 19:2)
- Success is attitude: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, though being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing." (Phil 2:5)