Based on the advice given in the last post, you have spent the time necessary to redefine success in your business. You are now looking at it from an eternal perspective. Now you want to know how to measure that new definition of success. What are the results and rewards you should be looking for? That should be easy enough to figure out, right? Not so fast!
Jim Reese – CEO, Atlanta Mission
This is the second post in a series of five that describes the advice my brother and I received from business and ministry leader, Jim Reese. Mr. Reese seen incredible success in the business world over a stellar career with executive positions in companies such as Randstad N.A., Frito-Lay, and HoneyBaked Ham, but he has also significantly impacted people for eternity through his work with Atlanta Mission. He has taken his exceptional business skills and is applying them in Christian ministry.
Below, is the second of five main points I gained from our conversation. The first point was described [here]. Mr. Reese’s advice is directed at anyone trying to buck the norms of this world and integrate their faith into their work. If you are trying to run your business from an eternal perspective, then you need to heed this advice.
- Remember that results & rewards are not always immediately evident or measurable.
Two Issues With Redefined Success Advice
There are two issues that come with the advice to redefine success toward an eternal perspective as described in the last post.
Problem #1: Observing Results
First, these success results are not always easily observed or measured.
Profit, shareholder wealth, and even cash flow metrics are most often easily obtained through mathematical formulas. You can look in virtually any business book or online and find many easy formulas to measure financial success and results. While the formulas can get complicated when looking at cash flow or other financial metrics, at least there are definite answers. Once calculated, these results are not difficult to interpret.
But when you turn to a business being run as a platform for ministry, the results get muddy. Unfortunately, the spiritual growth and life change that result from doing ministry are not measurable. How do you really know if someone was impacted by your efforts?
Sure, you can look at the fruit they bear, but how do you know it is real and not faked or based on wrong motivations? Even if you could validate the authenticity, how do you measure it?
And what about when the impact happens two or three persons down a chain of events? How do you observe or measure the impact when it is the friend of a friend of your employee? How would you know if a employee’s family member shares something from your company newsletter with one of their co-workers and a life is changed?
What about a customer that takes a copy of the Gospel of John from your customer lounge or one of your New Testament Owner’s Manuals for Life from their glove box and God uses it to draw them to Him. If they do not come back and tell you about it, you will never know! You could be having an impact on family members, acquaintances, or customers that you will never meet here on earth.
Problem #2: Timing of Results
Second, the results my be delayed. You will reap what you sow, but you rarely reap when you sow!
In most secular businesses, results are somewhat immediate. Again, good operating processes and disciplines produce net profit and cash flow in the near term. If not, leadership is under significant pressure to make changes.
But for a Christian business operating from an eternal perspective, desired results are often not immediately evident. Sometimes, the impact you have on someone may not show up for years! Maybe one of the ministry actions in your business touches an employee, but they leave your company and it is years before the results are evident. Another example may be that years later, an employee that you impacted begins teaching and impacts someone else.
We Need Celebrations!
All of these examples should be part of your success picture. You should be able to celebrate them, but because of the nature of the results, you likely cannot. This is not a big deal until you consider that we all need celebrations! We need to be able to see our progress and know that we are moving toward our goals.
This is most important when we have a streak of a couple of disappointing days. Have you ever had a couple of those days? Have you ever felt like you are not gaining ground and wonder why you are even trying?
Well, this advice does not eliminate those days, but it certainly helps us to know what to do. While we know and recognize that our rewards will come later, we can better deal with these days if we can remind ourselves of the nature of these results.
If we can trust God and know that He will be faithful to honor our efforts by producing fruit in those we minister to, then we can better maintain our passion even when the fruits of our labor are not obvious.
How do you remind yourself that you are making an impact even when it is not evident?
How do you think about measuring impact?
How would you respond to his advice?