Imagine there is a missionary who works for 30+ years. At the end of his ministry he has a team of people around him helping him. Everything from clerical to financial to ministry was taken care of – all led by competent, professional servants of God. Compare that to another missionary, who at the end of his 30+ years has only one person left on his team; only one person who has remained with him until the end. How would you compare the two?
Surely, we would praise the first as a great ministry leader – a great visionary and organizer. We would question the second missionary, judging and second guessing his ministry. What mistakes did he make along the way? Surely there is a reason why he has no one left serving with him.
The problem is, the second missionary is the Apostle Paul.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:19-21
Paul only had one person left serving with him. What a statement! The Apostle Paul only had one person left that he could count on! Why? The rest of them left to seek their own agenda, not the agenda of Jesus Christ.
Was Paul a failure? A terrible leader? Unable to influence people and lead them well?
Or was he more successful for the Lord than others and thus more attacked by Satan? Was the enemy more focused on ripping his team apart because of its effectiveness for the Kingdom? Perhaps that is the better answer.
So be careful to judge a book by its cover – particularly servants of God. We are fighting a spiritual battle, and our apparent successes and failures are not so apparent after all.