You can’t measure how well or poorly you are doing something unless you have some sort of metric. Are you a good bricklayer? There is a few ways to measure that. Number of bricks laid, how strong the structure is, how honest your prices are, how well your clients like you. But here is the funny thing, the metric that you use to define success will not only tell me something about your work, but it will tell me something about you. The above list does not only say something about different bricklaying, but of different bricklayers.
I bring this up, because sometimes as Christians, I think that we can skew our metrics. We are called to make disciples, but sometimes making disciples is not our aim. We take things that should have helped us make disciples, and make that our goal instead. We try to be a good speaker, forgetting that we are speaking to change people. We try to hold programs at church, forgetting that these programs should impact people. We take these means and make them end. In my own life, I do this with books. I love books, but I need to remember that they are means, not ends. They are tremendous means, but, what I have often found myself doing is retreating into my books instead of doing the things that the books say.
Why do I do this? Why prioritize books over people? Frankly, because books are easy and people are hard. Dealing with someone who is hurting, doubting, or whose marriage is falling apart will consume your time, energy, and your thoughts. A book won’t call you at odd hours. if you don’t do what a book says, it won’t call you out on it.
Not only that, but people are inherently hard to measure. Sure, you can count them, but it is hard to see who God changes through you. Sometimes you see people light up after a conversation, other times it feels like you are ploughing a freshly salted field. And the temptation in those moments is to change the goalposts, to move from investing in people to counting the books you read, the programs you were a part of, the recognition that you obtained. But as Christians we can’t do that, because our business is people.