Show Me the Numbers! - The Warrior's Journey®

Show Me the Numbers!

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

“(Apollos) greatly helped those who had believed” (Acts 18:27) 

What’s so special about this man Apollos? He made few converts. He performed no miracles. He built no churches. All the Book of Acts says of him is that “he was mighty in the Scriptures,” that “he powerfully refuted” the unbelieving Jews, and that – in the final analysis – he “greatly helped those who had believed” (Acts 18:27-28).  

If Apollos sent an “activities report” to his ecclesiastical supervisor, what would it say? “I did no miracles.  I won only a few converts. I built no churches. But I did encourage the faith of a lot of people.” His supervisor might say, “How did you measure this encouragement? How many units of faith did you instill and how many units of doubt did you remove? What metrics did you use? Show me the numbers!” 

Can you see the problem that many of us face in our service to the Lord and for our fellow human beings? What we do can’t always be quantified or placed upon a scale. But that does not indicate that our work is invalid or insignificant. 

Compare, for instance, the difference in the ministries of Paul and Apollos. When Paul came to the city of Corinth there were no believers.  By the time he left, there was a church full of believers. When Apollos came to Corinth he found a church full of believers. When he left, he left a church full of encouraged believers. Paul described the difference in their ministries in these terms: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was giving the increase.” Paul planted the seed of the gospel, but Apollos nurtured it.  Paul multiplied converts, but Apollos strengthened them. Paul’s work was much more easily measured. Apollos’ work could not be measured. Yet both ministries were essential. 

Consider the work of a kiln. The kiln is heated to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes the fragile, dried clay pots placed into it and hardens them into stone cookware. But notice what the kiln does not do. The kiln does not multiply the pots that go into it. The same number of clay pots that go into the kiln come out of the kiln. Yet the work of the kiln is indispensable to the potter. For, although the kiln does not multiply pots, it strengthens and transforms them. And what the kiln does to pots, Apollos did for believers. He confirmed and strengthened them.   

Although the help and encouragement you give cannot be measured or placed on a scale, yet it is still working wonders. More important it is known and appreciated by God who sees all things and will reward us for our faithfulness. 


  • Do you ever feel as though your service to God “amounts to nothing”? 
  • Do you look back on your work and see little accomplishment? 
  • Most of the greatest works for God consist of the intangible and unmeasurable. So be faithful in all your work for the Lord and be a blessing. God sees all. 

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