Faithfulness or Success

I've written before about how the church measures success in mission work.  I'm kind of obsessed with success.  I don't know why.  Personality probably.  Cultural values, no doubt.  I've failed plenty in life, but that seems to have only reinforced my desire to succeed.  Tell me I can't, and I'll prove you wrong.  Knock me down, and I'll get back up.  My mom told me I could do anything, and apparently I believed her.  
At the end of the summer this year, one of our interns asked me what has been the most important lesson I've learned in the mission field.  It didn't take me long to answer, because the important lessons are often then ones that hurt most in the learning.  My response was, "I'm learning to be content with faithfulness rather than success."  This is not a tremendous insight; just Google the title of this article.  In fact, I distinctly remember one of my graduate professors making this point.  I also remember thinking, "Sure, in theory, but of course God wants results.  Otherwise, what's the point?"  If that sounds pathological, just remember that the missionary too lives by grace alone.
Yet, the fact that there are results that God wants is what makes sense of the contrast between faithfulness and success. The point is not that God is indifferent about the consequences of the church's life in the world.  Rather, it is the importance of such consequences that gives meaning to success, and it is the meaning of this success that makes the contrast with faithfulness actually challenging and weighty.  Only in view of God's deep concern about the brightness of light and saltiness of salt can we really grasp what it means that he is pleased with our faithfulness regardless of our success.  The two are not mutually exclusive, but sometimes they are very different.