Hope for Tomorrow: When success becomes ultimate goal, our ministry is already missing God’s best
by KEVIN BUMGARNER
Executive Editor

Article Date: May 2, 2014

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt. 6:33-34 ESV

I am given to introspection. 

So you may not be surprised to find out that I often reflect on, among other things, how I describe myself on social media. Those words help me understand how I feel about myself or my situation at any given time.

They also help me see where I am in my daily walk with God. Am I being honest with myself? My friends and followers? My God? Am I being obedient? Am I being a witness?

For those of you who haven’t (yet) friended me on Facebook, followed me on Twitter, included me in a circle on Google+ or added me to your network on LinkedIn, here’s what I am currently saying:

Facebook: Follower of Christ

Google+: Always willing to take a risk

Twitter: I lead the Florida Baptist Witness in communicating how God is at work in the lives of Florida Baptists. Feel free to tell me what you see God doing.

LinkedIn: I am ultimately responsible for creating a suite of print and digital products that capture the attention of and set the agenda for those who are interested in the kingdom-building work being done by Southern Baptists in Florida.

That doesn’t sum up everything about me. But, as I reflected on these descriptions recently, I was surprised at how revealing they were.

I want to be, first and foremost, known as a follower of Christ. Once upon a time I described my religious views on Facebook as Southern Baptist, but that somehow felt incomplete. I then called myself a Christian, but so do the majority of Americans, even though far too many of us primarily use that description as a cultural reference. So, I finally boiled everything about me and God down to me being a “follower of Christ.”

I became active on Google+ at a time when I was helping my former employer go through a total transformation of their news and information offerings, so it felt right to describe myself by saying: “Always willing to take a risk.”

In fact, that self-description gave me some comfort recently when I was praying through whether God actually could be asking me to move my family, quite literally, from one end of the country to another to pursue a call to ministry in the middle of my professional life and my daughter’s senior year of high school.

I’ve changed my description on Twitter a couple of times since arriving in Florida. There is something about the short space allowed that makes me especially sensitive to what that message should be.

For now, telling followers that I am leading an effort to communicate what God is doing, and I want their feedback, feels like the right message. 

And then there is LinkedIn, where I chose to be most descriptive of the expectations associated with me taking this job: I am, after all, the one responsible for creating print and digital products that tens of thousands of Southern Baptists throughout the state need to be willing to spend money to support.

As I pondered these thoughts during a recent prayer time, God led me to a comforting conclusion: Even in ministry, He made me for more than this. He cares about me beyond my ability to work or “be productive” or “successful,” as the world, or even the church, would define success.

Through that gentle reminder, He also led me to the uncomfortable flip-side of that original thought: I cannot be bold for Him when my life is focused on the fear of something—in this case, on the fear of not succeeding in my mission to create a Florida Baptist Witness that is viable and relevant for the next generation of readers.

So, as I embark on remaking the Florida Baptist Witness into a source of news, information and inspiration that you will look forward to spending time with and be willing to support, I needed to be reminded of this simple truth.

My only calling is to be bold and courageous in the name of Jesus Christ. He, ultimately, is the only one I need to please.

If the Florida Baptist Witness were to reach a record number of print subscribers and capture more unique visitors on our website than ever before, and I lost my passion for who should be first in my life, I will have failed at what matters to Him.

Conversely, if I courageously go where God calls me to go and, in the end, He chooses not to turn around the fortunes of the publication you hold in your hands or are reading on a screen, I will not have fallen short of the prize.

So, what are you saying about yourself? And what are your ministry goals?

Even if you aren’t so revealing as to post your most introspective thoughts on Facebook or Twitter, what does your prayer journal reveal about you? Do you need to give yourself the freedom to fail, and be careful about how you define success, and in the process return to the place where you let God be God in your life?

That’s a prayer that He will honor every time.


Let’s Connect: 

In the office at 904-596-3171, via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com and Twitter @FBW_editor. I also am active on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn under my given name.

 

 

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