"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, 3-4
King Amaziah had a stressful job.
He led an entire nation. If the people didn't follow the Laws of God (all 613 of them), he had to answer to God Almighty. And Amaziah's performance review could go one of two ways. The Bible would say of Amaziah either, "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" or—bum ba buuuuuuuum—"He did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord."
Talk about pressure!
Amaziah had reason to worry. He had one big shortcoming. It would come up at every "Monarch-Nation-Relations-Committee" meeting. Several responses to the Survey-Donkey noted it was never a problem for the Monarch Emeritus.
The problem 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 perfect. 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.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.