MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next, a preview of Listening In. This week, host Warren Smith talks to Rich Stearns, president emeritus of World Vision and an author.
Stearns spent 21 years at the helm of the Christian aid organization and now teaches about leadership. Leaders are often measured by their results, but Stearns believes there’s a more significant way to evaluate their effectiveness. Here’s Warren.
RICH STEARNS: So one of the metaphors I like to use is that of a GPS or Google Maps. And when you enter a destination in your Google Maps program, or in your car, it gives you very precise driving directions—instructions on how to get there. But if you enter the wrong destination, you’ll get very accurate driving directions to the wrong place.
So let’s imagine that, you know, we have a spiritual GPS and we enter our destination as “success.” Well, if I want to be successful, you know, I might have to compromise some things. I might have to use people in certain ways. I might have to be more manipulative. I might have to get more into office politics. I may have to make some trades about time with my family versus time at work—time with friends versus time at work. And, and I can make some tragic choices.
The Scripture says that those who have a love of money pierce themselves with many griefs. And so success can become an idol and an obsession in our lives. It can become the main thing we’re living for, to be more successful, more and more successful.
Now, on the other hand, if I enter into my spiritual GPS: “faithfulness,” I want to be a faithful follower of Christ. And that’s my focus. And that’s my goal. I go to work now. And I think, “Hey, I’m Christ’s ambassador in this place. I’m here to minister to the people. I’m surrounded with my co workers. I’m here to demonstrate the character of Christ, the love of Christ to the people around me. And I’m here to model the integrity and character of Jesus to those that I work with so.” So now it’s not about whether I’m going to get ahead or get a promotion. It’s like “how can I? How can I be a good ambassador for Christ?” And now, I believe if you do that, you’re likely to be more successful—not because success was your goal—but because those biblical principles all often lead to success, but they don’t always lead to success. You could be a middle manager the rest of your life and that’s okay. But often these characteristics and these values lead to success.
BASHAM: That’s Rich Stearns talking to Warren Smith. To hear their complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.