Last year I read a very powerful book entitled, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion” by Gregory Boyle. For over 20 years, Father Greg, a catholic priest, has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. His stories are tragic, jaw dropping and incredibly moving. I highly recommend this book if you want to see how the smallest act of kindness can truly change a person’s life.
His book details the struggles he faces each and every day to measure the positive impact he is having in his work. His board of directors, of course, wants to see results and outcomes; but so often the stats don’t match what’s really happening. His stories of God at work don’t always have the fairytale endings we all desire in life. In fact, many of them end very tragically. Someone finally gives their life to Christ, and then the next day they are randomly gunned down in a gang shooting. The senseless tragedies go on and on, and I honestly don’t know how he keeps going in the midst of such heartbreaking loss.
His stories have broken my heart and given me a new sense of what compassion looks like in real time. It’s easy to say and believe that we are called to show love and compassion to others, but it’s much more difficult to faithfully live that out. I have a t-shirt and necklace I sell that proclaims, “Love God, Love Others, Love….that’s it!” But I wonder, would I be able to show the kind of love he demonstrates to people who are caught up in such a violent world, a world that is so profoundly different from the one I live in?
And how do we truly measure results and outcomes? If his years of work only result in one changed life, isn’t that worth it? If someone Greg loves on goes out and participates in a random gang shooting, is the seed he planted null and void? Can we stand here and say that numbers have anything at all to do with success?
These are real questions I ask myself in my own ministry. It’s hard to measure “success.” Many times I don’t get to see the fruit of my hard work. There’s no way to gauge the impact I am having on the broken and hurting people I get the privilege to minister to.
The most powerful truth God is revealing to me again and again is that His economy is not like the world’s economy. In God’s economy, you leave the 99 to go after the one. In God’s economy, two loaves of bread and five fish feed 5,000 people. In God’s economy, five small stones take down a fierce giant.
Results and outcomes are not always measurable. We can’t see into people’s hearts to know what has touched them. Positive results can very often be found in the messiness of our lives. Hope is intangible.
If we can somehow surrender our need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business. Truth is, we may be obedient in our walk but never receive the fruit of our efforts this side of heaven. Yet what rejoicing we will experience on the other side. I can’t wait to hear the hallelujahs!
As we reach the end of the first month of this new year, you may already feel defeated. The resolutions or goals you were so fired up about may already feel out of reach. You may not be seeing the results and outcomes you hoped for.
I encourage you to let that go! Keep doing what you’re called to do with excellence! Find ways to show compassion to the people who maybe deserve it the least in your life and then let go of the results. Trust that although you may never see the seed you have planted come to life, God will!
Join me, and together let’s choose to trust in God’s economy! Let’s surrender our need for validation by the world. Let’s surrender our definition of success. Let’s surrender our need to feel important and become a servant.
Let’s simply be faithful and surrender the results and outcomes!
Hugs and love,
Results and Outcomes