That Love/Hate Relationship We Have With Numbers

I start my day by stepping on the scales.  It’s like standing before the judgement seat.

Yes, I have a love/hate relationship with numbers!42020226-1-f

Number(s) can be a dicey thing.

One writer warned, “Beware the tyranny of the numbers .”

But on the other hand, another reminded me that, “Things that get measured almost always improve.” And yet another stated, “Measure what you treasure.”

Which of these authors are correct? I’d say all three.

I struggled for years as a pastor on whether I should be worried about the numbers—about whether or not I should try to improve the number, and go for bigger numbers. It seemed so unspiritual. Was the church to be like the world? Was I to run the church like a business?

I think I finally figured out what was right.

  • Numbers are indicators – they indicate who is there and who is not there. The emphasis is on the word “who” not the number per se. In other words, follow up on the whos – count who is there and also count who is not there. (Both numbers are very important! Most people settle for who is present and thus miss a great opportunity by not being specifically aware of who was not there.)

The important question to answer is, “What am I going to do with these numbers?” If the answer is get bigger numbers, beware lest you hear God say, “Thou fool, tonight thy soul is required of you.”

To “grow the number(s)” in a God-honoring way, instead of worrying about the number, worry (care deeply) about more people and seek to improve more people’s lives, and keep up with them. Number them like you do your family each night to make sure everyone is home safe and sound. Do that, and your people will grow and thus the number will grow and God will be pleased and honored.

When I was a child television did not broadcast 24/7. Believe it or not, each night the television stations would sign off at eleven o’clock by playing the National Anthem and the announcer would say, “It’s eleven o’clock, do you know where your children are?”

Say what you will, but they got that number right and that’s the question God askes every pastor, every parent, every friend, everybody – “Do you know where your “children” are?

And that is a question every pastor should ask themselves daily and especially on Sunday and at their midweek events. And that is a question that every pastor should ask their people regularly: “Do you know where your family, friends, and neighbors are?” (Spiritually and physically.)

Counting heads is a good thing when you are counting the heads of people you care about.

One day God is going to sign-off on this world and he is going to count souls.  It’s our job to make sure we get as many of those souls safely home before the end comes…and that can’t be done without keeping up with the number.


Luke 15:4 (NKJV)
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

The Lost Sheep A U Soord

One thought on “That Love/Hate Relationship We Have With Numbers

  1. David, this was a great post! I recently heard that you moved to Bismark, ND. Both Toni and I wish you and Sonja the best. Would love to know what happening in your life!
    God’s Blessings, Bill


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