By Irvin Himmel
We live in an age when results are demanded. Pressure is applied, ultimatums are delivered, rigid quotas are set, and goals must be met.
For example, certain sales people are under enormous pressure to reach specified quotas or else. Some resort to unfair tactics, dishonest schemes, and less-than-honorable approaches in order to reach their assigned percentage. They feel that they are in a do-or-die situation..
The coach for a ball team may be a fine man and an excellent coach. He may do a splendid job in teaching his team good sportsmanship. However, some fans will demand that he be fired if there is a long losing streak. Winning is to them more important than fair play.
On production lines there is poor quality work in many cases because of the demand for large quantity and rapid turnout. The management wants mass production rather than quality merchandise. Slap it together and put it on the market.
Gospel preachers sometimes are victims of this kind of thinking. No matter how faithful the preacher or how hard he works, if certain numerical results are not visible, some in the church will insist that he be replaced. The contributions and the attendance figures are used as gauges. The preacher’s work is evaluated by statistics.
Poor old Noah worked long and hard in building the ark. He was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). Although he may have preached and worked on the ark for many years, when the showdown came, only his immediate family went into the ark with him. All that work and only eight souls (counting the preacher) were saved! Some of our hardnosed folks who assess preaching by numerical results probably wonder why God did not
drown old Noah in the flood! They would argue that his work was ineffective and without impact. But God demands faithfulness, not what we add up as “visible results.” We need more preachers like Noah.
The concept that in the absence of certain numerical developments a preacher is not doing his job may lead to tactics and schemes that are wrong. A preacher may feel pressured and obliged to attain “results.” The message is watered down. Emphasis is placed on whatever may attract more people. Higher statistical ratings take priority. Dedication to “preaching the word” takes a back seat.
God blessed Noah despite the small numerical showing from his work. There are some things far more important than counting noses and adding monetary amounts. God promised through Isaiah that his word would not return to him void (Isa. 55:11). Spiritual increase is more valuable than mere numerical increase. Let us show faith in God by loyally proclaiming the gospel without trying to force a particular kind of increase. Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” ( 1 Cor. 3:6). Our task is to be faithful in planting and watering, God handles the increase