Say what you want about the prophet Jonah—the guy got results.
Seriously. How many other prophets can say they convinced an entire city to repent just by preaching a one-sentence sermon on the edge of town? How many prophets can say the king of the city was so convicted that he even commanded the animals to fast and wear sackcloth? How many prophets can say the sailors who transported them to their mission field were praying and offering sacrifices by the end of the voyage?
Jonah was pretty successful, right?
If you’ve read the story, chances are you’re at least a little hesitant to label Jonah’s ministry a success. That’s because the results only tell half the story.
Jonah didn’t preach a one-sentence message to Nineveh because that was all he needed—he did it because he didn’t want it to work. The sailors didn’t worship God because of anything Jonah did—they did it because they saw God’s response to Jonah’s rebellion.
The results of Jonah’s ministry didn’t happen because of anything he did. If anything, they happened despite everything he did.
I think that’s one of the big points the book of Jonah is trying to make: Results are not always the best indicator of success. Sometimes, your results aren’t even about you.
As a radio guy, this hits home. Whether it’s ratings, fundraising dollars, or social media engagement, I have all sorts of results I can use to measure success. What’s tricky is that sometimes those results have very little to do with the tactics I’m employing. A ratings book can land with just the right (or wrong) family. The economic situation of my community can influence people’s willingness to donate. The ever-changing Facebook algorithm can completely change how many people see my content.Don’t get me wrong. I like looking at results. Results come through as cold, hard numbers that I can plug into spreadsheets, which help guide my decision-making. The place where things fall apart is where I get so focused on results that I bend myself—and the station—out of shape trying to get the numbers to do what I want them to.
This is why it’s important to have a clear mission, both for your station and for yourself as a Christian radio professional. Understand what your station is trying to accomplish and how you’re trying to accomplish it. Understand how your faith impacts your work. Let this dictate your response to results first.
God’s already proved he can get results out of a reluctant one-sentence sermon. The results have never been up to you, but your faithfulness is.
Taylor Hohulin co-hosts Mornings with Taylor and Jen at Northwestern Media’s Life 107.1 in Des Moines, where he also serves as Program Director.
You can contact him to chat radio or weird science fiction at Taylor@Life1071.Com