How to Measure Success

My world was rocked this last week. Amy and I have been adding a new component to our language study. We have been recording conversations between two of our Xangana-speaking friends, and then playing the conversation back to translate it.

It is challenging. But in the middle of one of our recent conversations I heard something that sent me reeling. I asked our two language helpers to talk about their churches. They each attend different churches and I wanted to work a little bit on church vocabulary.

So as I was listening to them talk about church I couldn’t understand what I heard:

Ho yini kareke ka wena (How is your church?)

Kareke ka mina ki kongela kwatsi (My church prays well)

Wait a minute. Did you catch that?!? He was asked: How is your church. Did you see how he responded?

He didn’t say how many people they baptized this year. He didn’t mention how fabulous the preacher is or how many people showed up to Sunday School. He didn’t even just say “fine”.

He said their church prays well. That’s how he measures the status of their church.

I’m not sure whether or not that is the only way or the best way to measure success in a church, but I know I’ve never heard a single pastor ever explain how their church was doing based on the fact that their church prays well. I know I never used that expression in my tenure at TNL.

So I’ve been thinking about how we measure success in the church. And I’ve been thinking about how we measure success in other areas of life. Are we measuring the wrong things? Are we just measuring the things that are easiest to measure?

So I’ve created a to-do list for myself before the new year. I am going to think of 5 things that are important to me that I do not currently measure (or measure well), and I am going to find a creative new way to measure them. Any ideas?

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About daveterpstra

Beggar, Abolitionist, Man of God
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2 Responses to How to Measure Success

  1. Daniel Nice says:

    Great post as always Dave, a couple of things that come to mind immediately for me are measuring myself on giving love to friends and family, being a good father and husband, being connected to our Lord and savior, spreading joy in a world that often seems lacking in it.

  2. Laura Joseph says:

    I was thinking along the same lines as Daniel… For each of your children, you could ask pointed questions about how you treat them, how much time you spend with them, how well you listen, etc… and what they think you could do differently toward them or their mom, or…

    A year is a long time for a kid, and then if you ask the same questions this time next year, you will find out if you changed anything meaningful toward any of them. They likely will not remember how they responded this year, so it might be a good measure.

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