What Really Matters
In the second year of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. – 2 Kings 14:1-4 abridged (NIV)
King Amaziah had a stressful job. He led an entire nation, and if the people didn’t follow the laws of God (all 613 of them), he had to answer to God Almighty.
Talk about pressure!
Amaziah had reason to worry. There was one big problem, and it was sure to come up at every “Monarch-Nation Relations Committee” meeting. He could expect it to be mentioned in every performance review. It would certainly show up in several responses to the Survey-Donkey that Amaziah’s problem was never a problem for the Monarch Emeritus.
The trouble that kept Amaziah up at night was… people were burning incense on the high places.
You were expecting something worse, maybe?
In the end, the verdict on Amaziah’s leadership was clear: he had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He was faithful in the most important ways. And if the incense thing never quite got figured out, so be it.
For church leaders in a numbers-obsessed, data-driven culture, it’s tempting to focus on the myriad ways we fall short of perfection. Maybe Sunday attendance isn’t what it used to be, or the social media numbers are low. It’s tempting to mistake worry for vision.
Focus on making people’s lives better in your local community. Social media numbers will follow. Focus on glorifying God and attendance numbers won’t be a problem. Attendance numbers may or may not be high. But whoever tells you that God only works wonders when attendance is high is selling something—probably a church growth book.
Be faithful and you’ll do right in God’s eyes.
Help me not sweat the small stuff.
Rev. John Edgerton is Senior Minister and CEO of Old South Church in Boston. He is the 21st Senior minister in the congregation’s over 350 year history.