How to Define and Measure Success on God’s Terms

by | Nov 15, 2013 | Business & Marketplace, Finances & Career

Experts had said it couldn’t be done. The country wasn’t ready for microfinance. The poor wouldn’t repay loans. And the government was too corrupt.

But HOPE International, the organization I lead, saw the Democratic Republic of Congo as aligned with its mission to serve in challenging places.

Congo is known for its problems. Ranked the most difficult place in the world to do business for the past five years, it has hosted the most deadly war since World War II, waged in an effort to control vast natural resources. Called “the rape capital of the world,” it’s a country known for human trafficking and horrific violence against women.

And it’s a place that humbled me.

Fast Track to Success

Shortly after joining our organization, I traveled to Kinshasa, where I met the local staff. They had a vision for their country. They saw potential in the hardworking Congolese men and women. And they told me they knew we could make a difference.

We wanted to dream big. At the time, only one in a thousand Congolese had access to a bank. No other faith-based organizations were there to help entrepreneurs start small businesses through access to training and small loans. So we conducted market surveys to understand the needs of our potential clients.

I was there for the program’s launch and watched it grow from the ground up—and grow it did.

In August 2004, our team distributed its first loans. Over the next five years, we experienced dizzying growth. Clients were clamoring for our services. At one point we were adding 1,000 clients every month. By December 2008, we were serving almost 24,000 families in a country where everyone told us it could not be done.

I remember thinking, It’s really not that hard. We can actually do this!

Beyond that, lives were being changed. Entrepreneurs were expanding their businesses. Parents shared how, through increased income, they were able to pay for school fees. And many were returning to the church as they experienced uncommon care and concern from committed staff.

As we grew in the Congo, all our summary indicators pointed to health and vitality. In just five years, we were a true success story. I presented our accomplishments at microfinance conferences. The World Bank honored our success with a Pro-Poor Innovation award.

It was as if we could hear God telling us, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you” (2 Sam. 7:3, NIV). We were making a difference. We had built an amazing program from nothing in one of the most challenging places in the world.

But we were only a few steps away from discovering fraud, closing branches, laying off staff and facing a humbling restart of the program.

Rude Awakening

After five years of success, we became painfully aware that we had failed to build a solid foundation.

Driven by a desire to have even greater impact, we (1) expanded beyond our capacity, (2) hadn’t developed all the necessary internal controls and (3) trusted individuals without appropriate checks and balances. We were not built to last. Closing branches and refocusing our efforts, we dismissed more than 100 staff.

It wasn’t just about our ministry; it was also about me. I was devastated. I had found a huge piece of my personal and organizational identity in the success of this program. I had enjoyed being able to say to the naysayers, “Microfinance can succeed anywhere, even in the most difficult corners of the world. Just look at us!”

Going to Washington, D.C., and presenting on our work, I had created a PowerPoint presentation outlining 10 steps to implement microfinance in hard places. I previously had all of the answers.

Not so much anymore.

What happened? Over the next few years, we explored this question extensively, and what we learned has profoundly changed me. Key operational lessons were learned, but the primary danger wasn’t the rapid growth, the failure to adequately plan or even program leadership.

The primary danger was the state of our hearts.

Gateway Sin

Jim Collins, best-selling author of How the Mighty Fall, says the first stage of a company’s decline isn’t an external factor but an internal attitude: hubris.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Are Domestic Missions as Important as International Missions?

Are Domestic Missions as Important as International Missions?

Huntington, Indiana, is a small town that is witnessing a revival stirring within the youth. For 10 days, I was able to witness this firsthand by the opportunity to lead a trip to this town to serve with six other college girls. During this time, I saw how the Lord...

8 Ways You Can Attract God’s Full Attention

8 Ways You Can Attract God’s Full Attention

We all want God’s attention, right? The best way to get His attention is to give Him our full attention, and pay close attention to what attracts Him. There are certain attitudes and actions which attract God and others that repel Him. We want to create an atmosphere...

What the Holy Spirit Showed Me About the Fentanyl Overdose Crisis

What the Holy Spirit Showed Me About the Fentanyl Overdose Crisis

Fentanyl has been making headlines lately in the midst of an overdose crisis raging in America. Doubtless, if we don’t shut this down in the spirit, this overdose crisis will soon find its way into many other nations. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to...

Could Judas Have Been Saved?

Could Judas Have Been Saved?

The answer is yes. If Judas would have simply repented to God, he could have been saved. The Bible tells us that everyone can be saved. Judas knew he had sinned but he didn’t bring it to God. A person can feel remorse within themselves, but not remorse for sinning...

Anne Graham Lotz: One Kingdom Truth That Will Never Change

Anne Graham Lotz: One Kingdom Truth That Will Never Change

Out of respect for those of you who have taken the time to comment about a statement I made 11 years ago regarding the World Economic Forum, I thought it would be beneficial to restate God’s call on my life. In 1988, He made it clear that I was to be His messenger,...

RECENT ARTICLES

Spirit-Filled Pastor: Only Pulpits Have the Power to Change America

One thing is crystal clear in America: If we truly want change, we must re-spark biblical boldness and flame the fires of biblical action. If we won't fight, then spiritually speaking, we will fade...
A Big Excuse That Shuts Down Our Ability to Hear from God

A Big Excuse That Shuts Down Our Ability to Hear from God

One of the biggest excuses we have is that we somehow feel God doesn’t speak to us. This excuse shuts down our ability to hear from Him, trust Him and surrender to Him. All three things are integral when we are trying to change our habits, lose weight, get healthy and...

How Do You Leave a Church That Becomes Toxic?

How Do You Leave a Church That Becomes Toxic?

Two weeks ago, I shared several practical guidelines on how to leave a church gracefully. I wrote this because I hear so many stories about people storming out of churches because their feelings got hurt. But one astute reader didn’t appreciate my observations because...

Prophetic Word: There Will Be a Day of Reckoning

Prophetic Word: There Will Be a Day of Reckoning

“Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and...

8 Reasons for You to Speak in Tongues

8 Reasons for You to Speak in Tongues

If a person were to ask, “Why speak in tongues?” couldn’t we also ask, “Why pray?” The Word of God shows a definite value in praying with an unknown tongue. Jesus tells us that “it is necessary always to pray” (Luke 18:1, MEV). Later, in speaking of prayer, Paul...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]