Jesus defined success differently. For Him, success could be summed up in three words: Faithfulness (Matthew 25:21; Hebrews 11:6) fruitfulness (John 15:8) and finishing well (Matthew 25:21; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
If these three things are what Jesus is looking for to determine our success, both in life and in ministry that we accomplish for Him, then perhaps our priorities should reflect them. Christian put so much emphasis on tasks at the expense of relationships, but actually, it is our relationships that will ultimately reveal our success or lack thereof. Let me explain.
We cannot be faithful to Jesus unless we have a relationship with Him. This supernatural ability to have a relationship is given to us when we are born again and is called eternalize (see John 17:3). For us to be fruitful we need to be making disciples and seeing people come to a saving knowledge of the Lord and an encounter with the living God. This requires for us to be in relationships with non-believers. Jesus speaks of eternal fruit in John 15. And, to finish well we need to be doing all that Jesus asks us in the “race that He sets before us” setting aside everything that would take our focus off of the task He set before us. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
This were the aspects of His life and ministry that made Jesus a success in the eyes of His Heavenly father.
Jesus was not enamoured by large crowds. Though He obviously had the ability to draw tens of thousands to attend an event, it was not his purpose to gather a large crowd, and that was not success to Him. He frequently tried to get away from large crowds (Luke 5:14-16), and even intentionally offended them without worrying about loosing His popularity (John 6:41-71). So, although He was busy with the tasks at hand – introducing the Kingdom, healing the sick, giving hope to the hopeless… He invested the majority of His time in 12 men He named apostles / disciples (Mark 3:13-14). He build relationships. He took time to encourage relationships. And, within these relationships this rag-tag team developed character and courage and took the Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the known earth. Through them Jesus was faithful, fruitful, and finished well.
Jesus invested time in the twelve. He discipled them. He did this because He knew that it is the lives you touch, one at a time, which will be the fruit of your life. And, like Jesus, to focus on the true priority of making disciples (the call upon every believer – Matthew 28:18-20) we must, at times, neglect the distracting but less than significant demands that come from others, the society in which we live, and yes, even the Church. People will always have need, wounds, and desires. There will never be a shortage of things to do, places to go, and things that need doing and accomplishing. We must not let demands and needs dictate the priorities in our lives and thus the daily use of our time. We must measure “success” in the same terms that Jesus did – Faithfulness, fruitfulness, and finishing well.