We are finishing up our series today on success. Two weeks ago we talked about this concept of what success looks like in light of church activities and calendar.
Corner Church success is evaluated by looking at whatever is animated and motivated by our faith in Jesus apart from all of our church activities.
Last week we had a conversation on trust and trustworthiness. How just doing trusting/trustworthy things apart from an internal reality of being is broken. Remember the picture of the glacier. We ended with some reflection.
What do you need to process today in order to have more space/time/energy to just address “being”?
And today we are having a conversation on something we’ve talked about many times over this year and last. Local. Early. Together.
What does success look like in your local?
In focusing on things early before they hit crisis moments?
In unity with other people?
As we have talked about internal realities and external actions, today our conversations will hopefully lead us to a point of seeing how they can’t be separated. Internal and external are completely intertwined. It’s good for us to focus on one or the other at points but as much as we might want to separate them, they really are one.
Determining what’s actually important to us can be a challenge. If I just asked you, “What are the most important things in your life?”, you might respond with a list of things that pop into your head.
Spouse. Kids. Work. Faith. Dog. Cat. Friends. Fun. Food. Rest.
But what we want to unpack more of today is how we get to the decision moment or the realization moment. WHY something is important to you.
Think of everything you would consider to be internal. The being. Your worldview, beliefs, and values. How do you determine what’s most important?
How do you know that something is important to you internally?
Now think about all of the external things in your life. Your behaviors and actions. Things you care for by taking action on them. How do you determine what to care for or which things matter most?
How do you know that something is important to you externally?
How do these things connect?
If I just focus on some kind of internal reality of local/early/together, I might have a lot of good “ideas” that don’t ever translate to action and in turn are useless.
If I just focus on the externals of local/early/together, I might be able to sustain them for a short while, but in the end I won’t have a reason to continue doing them and will likely burn out or quit.
Paul shows this connection point between internal and external in Ephesians 2.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Internal being and external doing are inseparable.
Think about a seed. Within a seed is the potential for so much. Life, growth, fruit, provision. Yet if the seed doesn’t go into the ground and get watered and break open and start to actually grow, it’s still just potential.
What are the things in life that you tend to focus too heavily on either internal or external in?
Think about the things you hope to succeed in for your own life that are outside of faith.
Does your mind automatically go more toward internal or external things? Or both?
What is the impact of focusing disproportionately on one or the other?
What happens when we see internal beliefs/values and external actions as separate things that aren’t connected?
What if success is only evaluated and seen through the external?
What if success is only the internal and never makes its way to the external?
What if success is only in doing the extraordinary, the improbable, the newsworthy, the impossible?
What if success is so easy that no one ever fails?
What if church was built to be a lifetime of ideas with very little or potentially no putting into practice?
What if church was built on a foundation of endless actions that were primarily motivated by guilt?
So much tension exists when we put the internal and external on extreme ends of a spectrum.
The foundation of local - early - together centers on succeeding in some things. Not as superheroes, but as parts of communities.
Local - Meeting needs globally is important, but it should not be done at the cost of your local.
It can be easy to invest into something far away at the cost of what is right around you.
I have a conviction that God has placed you well right where you are.
Maybe life is less about questioning if we’re in the right place and more about getting involved right where we are. I’m not sure if God placed me here, but I do think that God has given me responsibility here. You have responsibility right where you are at this point in time.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Who is your local? How can you give more capacity in connecting with your local now?
Early - Meeting urgent needs is important, but should be done on top of the foundation of care for needs before moments of urgency.
There are moments that need someone to save the day. But would superheroes be necessary if problems were addressed before they became urgent?
In our communities there are subtle, unimpressive, quiet, unglamourous needs that go unmet day by day. Needs that, when met, could radically change the long term trajectory of people in our local.
Early investment has the potential for much larger long term impact at a much smaller effort. Being an “early investor” into the lives of others communicates that you believe in them. That you have hope for them.
Being a late investor feels much more like a last minute fix. Like when something goes on sale for black Friday.
Success is meeting needs in our local early to help prevent the moment they become last minute urgent needs.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:16-18
What are some examples of needs in your local that could be met early?
How can you be more intentional in meeting those needs now?
Together - Faith and following Jesus is an individual decision with eternally communal ramifications.
One of the most beautiful demonstrations of faith is the willingness to help someone else fulfill a passion. The moment when I feel the need to do something and you join alongside me. Self-sacrifice for the sake of someone else.
Success is meeting needs in our local early alongside others.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
Who is your “together” in meeting needs in your local?
How can you be more intentional in partnering with them?
We often define success by some realities that aren’t actually success.
Being the best. Achieving perfection. Having external action without internal reality. Having internal reality and thinking actions are unimportant. Driven by guilt and shame. Prestige. Never failing.
But really, what is success?
This is another moment that prescription would be easy. Let’s forego it for the sake of process and growth.
I love the words of Jesus in the parable found in one of the parables found in Matthew 25. This parable of a man who goes away for some time and leaves his servants in charge of his wealth while he’s gone.
There are some good things to process in this story.
Success is not simply about quantity. It’s intentional, not passive. Success is now, but it’s also “not yet.” Down the road.
Do a quick google search of the question “What is success?” and take a look at what you find. Think about everything we’ve talked about over the last few weeks about what success is and isn’t and reflect on this for yourself.
What is success?
Take it Deeper Questions
Read Matthew 25:14-30
If someone said they had a story for you and then shared this parable, how would you respond? Why?
Who are you in the parable? Master, Servant 1, Servant 2 or Servant 3? Why?
With the parable in mind: What things have you been entrusted with in this season? What does not being passive about those things look like? What is success with those things in this season?
Bible Reading Plan