Tag Archives: success

This Evaluation Stinks!

The program manager was reading the evaluation report when he exclaimed, “This evaluation stinks!” The evidence showed little or no progress for most of the program objectives. There were numerous recommendations for improving the chances for accomplishing the objectives, but the cost would be high. The report was bad news for the manager, and he reacted defensively by lashing out at the evaluation.

A similar program was evaluated in a different setting. The results for achieving objectives were similar, but the evaluator had used a transformative approach. Throughout the exercise the manager had participated in several sessions of reflecting on relevant passages of scripture with the evaluator and other stakeholders. And data had been collected and analyzed on program alignment with the agency mission; the evidence showed good alignment.

Before she shared the report with manager and others, they reflected on 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. They spent time discussing savoring the fragrance when Christ was present, and how people could decide to be triumphant in their situation or to be defiant. People could accept bad news in the eyes of the world as good news in the kingdom. Or not.

The manager read the report and commented first on the results for alignment. “I feel like we are living near a fragrant field of flowers, but our land where we are working has a lot of weeds choking the “crops” we have planted. The achievements are disappointing, but the nearby fragrance is encouraging. We need to prayerfully re-examine our objectives and how we using our resources, rejoicing in the promised triumph that comes when we are faithful.”

The evaluation approach and the reporting style can be a ministry of death or a ministry of life. Work towards an evaluation exercise that offers life going forward, not by obscuring worldly failure, but by facilitating awareness of the fragrance of Christ that transforms attitudes toward worldly failure. Praise God for revealing wisdom in scripture that surpasses worldly wisdom.

Understanding Success in Transformational Development (TD)

Typically a program evaluator makes judgments about the different ways that a program was successful or not. Understanding the features of success in a transformational development program is essential for facilitating TE.

Cook (1974, p. 13) lists six propositions about success from a scriptural perspective. Because the worldly notions of success are not consistent with godly notions it is important to think carefully about the words that are used to describe the features of success. Cook’s detailed discussion in the book points in directions that are based in Scripture, but he could have indicated this more explicitly in this list. Cook’s propositions are bullet points; my comments are marked with FGC. 

  • God is interested in me being successful, provided my definition of success is correct. 

FGC. God is interested in me being successful in the emerging kingdom of God, which is in conflict with the world. Success in the kingdom is very different from success in the world. God deeply desires that I be faithful to him in all matters; this is the image of success to keep before me. 

  • God should know more about success than anyone that has ever written about success. 

FGC. God knows more about success in the kingdom than anyone that has ever written about success. God in the person of Jesus demonstrated exactly what success looks like. 

  • God has put man into the world to succeed, not fail. 

FGC. God has put man into the world to succeed, not fail, in loving God and neighbor. I succeed in the kingdom as I act with love in all things. 

  • God is interested in our goals – interested in helping me formulate some that would benefit me tremendously. 

FGC. God is interested in how I choose to live my life, and will help me live in a godly way in the fallen world. The benefit of doing this is indescribable joy in all circumstances. 

Worldly success is often defined in terms of achieving personal goals. The problem with ‘achieving’ is the implication that I must work hard, which obscures the fact that devotion is more important to God than effort.  The problem with ‘personal goals’ is the implication that whatever I decide about goals is okay with God, as long as I do not hurt others. 

 Also, this statement is not helpful because an emphasis on benefiting the self is a stepping stone to sinful behavior; it obscures the fact that God’s interest is in being in relationship with me. Although God is always open to me coming to him, even as I pursue worldly goals, God is not interested in helping me achieve them. Secondly, God has promised to provide whatever I need to serve him; it is distracting to wonder about what other tremendous benefits I might receive. Finally, in our culture goal-setting is primarily about achieving selfish ends. What God desires is that I discern his plan for me as his servant, and faithfully follow that plan as circumstances evolve. 

  • God has written a book that contains excellent principles of success. 

FGC. God has written a book that contains excellent principles of success that I can apply in the emerging kingdom from this moment forward. 

  • God knows more about how to motivate man than any other authority in the field. Once he helps in the formulation of our goals, he then provides inner motivation for maximum achievement. 

FGC. God, through the Holy Spirit, knows how to motivate man more than any motivation specialist.

God does not help us formulate goals; God gives me insight into how I can fit into his plan for reconciling a fallen world back to God. Through the Holy Spirit, and only through heeding the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can I do things that fit within the plan. How much I achieve is not really relevant because I do not know how God measures achievement. I know that God desires me to be faithful in all things; perhaps this is what Cook means by ‘maximum achievement’. 

Cook, William H. 1974. Success, Motivation and the Scriptures.  Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

Reflections on Transformational Development (TD)

This paper is based on a chapel message preached at World Vision International (WVI) in Monrovia, California July 17, 2013. The message has been modified slightly so that it can make sense to those who are not familiar with WVI. Scripture passages are from the NIV.

This morning I will look at Scriptural foundations for four ways of looking at transformational development. Continue reading