The Essence of Success is Succession

Free Bible Study Materials for Christian Discipleship
 April 2016

Dear fellow disciple-maker,

What is the essence of success?

When I was in the 7th and 8th grades, I attended a very small church. It was so small that I was not just in the Junior High class – I was the Junior High class. For two years my Sunday school class was just Mr. Walters and me. Each week I sat on one side of an eight foot table and Mr. Walters sat on the other side. Mr. Walters began the class by taking the roll book and asking me if I was present.

Who Will Have the Opening Prayer?

After marking me "here", Mr. Walters would ask, "Who would like to have our opening prayer this morning?" I would jokingly reply, "Well, it's probably my turn." Following the prayer, Mr. Walters asked and I answered every question in that week's lesson. At the end of the hour, he would close his Bible and ask, "Who would like to have our closing prayer this morning?"

He Believed in Me

I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Walters for the amount of time he spent with me. Somehow he believed in me. Looking back, I realize that my weekly experience with Mr. Walters prepared me to follow Jesus. He seemed to understand that success in the Kingdom of God is not about size, but rather succession. Jesus modeled the same principle. Rather than trying to draw a crowd, he called twelve men and trained them to be his successors. To Jesus, success is succession.

Five Distinct Groups

During his earthly ministry, Jesus invested in five distinct social groupings: 1) an inner circle composed of Peter, James and John, 2) a spiritual family of the twelve apostles, 3) a team of 72 he personally equipped & sent, 4) a network of 120 who gathered in the upper room, and 5) the multitudes he taught, healed and fed. But since Jesus knew that his success depended on succession, he invested the greatest amount of time with the smallest number of people (groups 1 & 2).

photo courtesy of khrawlings

The Essence of Success and Spiritual Generations

The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy of the same principle. He said: The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (II Timothy 2:2). Paul gave Timothy a vision of success that depends on succession. Specifically, it was a vision that spanned four spiritual generations. The faith is passed from Christ to Paul; Paul to Timothy; Timothy to reliable men; reliable men to others.

Identify Your Successor

Consider the potential of this kind of natural spiritual reproduction. Our Lord wants us to invest in spiritual relationships that are devoted to doubling...then doubling again...and again. Who are you discipling? Never underestimate the influence you might have on just one person. Have you identified your successor? To Jesus, the essence of success is not about size – it's about succession.

Author:Paul Schlieker

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