Kate Nicholas

May 19, 2023, 8:30 AM

Kingdom KPIs – What the Bible tells us about measuring success

By Kate Nicholas

One of the most important parts of strategy development is the identification of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), against which we can measure our success. As management consultant Peter Drucker famously pointed out, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and good KPIs are an essential tool for motivating and guiding your organisation.

These indicators are also becoming ever more important in the public sphere, as institutional funders and donors demand accountability with regard to not-for-profits’ effectiveness and impact. But how does being a Christian organisation affect the way that we view and measure ‘success’ and what can the Bible tell us about developing faith-ful KPIs?

Good stewards of His investment

Certainly, as the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) shows, governments, foundations and public donors are not the only ones holding not-for-profit leaders to account – we also answer to God.

In this parable, Jesus tells the story of a master who entrusted his property to his servants while he travelled. Before he left, he gave three of his servants five, two and one talents respectively (a single talent was the equivalent of 20 years’ wages) and on his return, commended those servants with five and two talents who had put them to work and, as a result, doubled their money. But the third servant, who had simply buried the money, failing to make use of his master’s resources, was roundly condemned as wicked.

The lesson seems to be that God calls us to be good stewards of the riches that he entrusts to us, and like the rich man of Jesus’ salutary tale, he will keep an eye on his ‘investment’ and require an explanation of how effectively we have stewarded his blessings.

Count your blessings

The Bible records various instances in which God instructed His people to quantify their progress. In Numbers 1 and 26, God instructs Moses to undertake a meticulous census of the 12 tribes of Israel; in Acts 2:41, Luke is prompted to record not only the 5,000 fed by Jesus’ loaves and fishes miracle but also the extent of God’s largesse in terms of the number of scraps left over (12 baskets).

Likewise, in Acts 2:41 Luke records the number of newly baptised (3,000) on the day of Pentecost. But when David was prompted by pride to measure the size of his army (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21), his ‘sin’ provoked God’s wrath.

It seems it’s one thing to measure God’s blessings but quite another to glory in our own efforts, for we are “not competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (2 Cor 3:5) and it is “He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:18)

As Christian leaders, we must beware of squeezing God out of the equation and relying entirely on our own strength. We are called to have a Kingdom-sized vision which leaves space for God’s grace – and when we think of KPIs in this light it brings a whole new dimension to the term ‘stretch target’.

What to measure

So what kind of Kingdom KPIs should we be measuring against? As these Biblical examples show, it is fine to engage in quantitative measurement as long as we give credit to God for the success of our fundraising, investments and impact. But as Christian leaders, we also need to think in terms of quality and not just quantity; to measure not only donor acquisition and retention (as well as attrition) but the quality of relationship with those supporters.

And when it comes to our impact, our measures need to include the dignity we afford those we work with, and even, where appropriate, how their spiritual life has been enhanced by their interactions with the organisation and its staff; whether the light of Christ has been shone into their lives in deed, if not in, word. To judge ourselves as successful when our efforts bear fruit, and “fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

Finally, we need to be aware that our KPIs speak volumes about where our priorities lie. Organisations measure what matters, and what matters to us should be what matters to God.


Kate Nicholas

Kate Nicholas is a best-selling Christian author, preacher and consultant with Action Planning and, in her latest book, Soul’s Scribe, Kate looks at how to understand and share your “soul story” or faith journey. Find out more about her books, TV show and online courses at https://www.katenicholas.co.uk

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