When we make it our goal to be successful by numbers, motives shift from pursuing God to pursuing self-aggrandizement. The more souls saved the more self-glory found in the notches on our belt. The problem is that it makes lost people the object of personal ambition rather than the object of God’s love. It makes us impatient, dictatorial, and insensitive with people we want to “save” for Jesus. It creates envy, strife, and territorial warfare to protect our accomplishments in the kingdom. It can also turn into an indiscriminate recruitment of those God has not assigned to you, and once you’ve acquired their allegiance and affection, it’ll be temporary when they discover the motives behind your interest in them.
Jesus did not go after men and women for the numbers. He came to save souls through his death on the cross. He came not just to save the lost, but to lay the foundation for their sanctification and wholeness. He trained his disciples to fish for men and women to make them disciples, not to compare how many souls they each had won that day. When they went out to demonstrate the kingdom of God with power and then returned with reports to Jesus, he told them not to rejoice in their achievements, but that their names had been written in heaven. They were part of a family.
Yes, God is not willing that any man should perish, and that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But he wants healthy births—not stillbirths, or aborted births. We weren’t called to save souls, but to disciple souls; and you can only disciple a few at a time effectively. Any man can be a sperm donor and boast in the number of children he sires. But it takes a selfless man to become a father who will commit to parenting a child into a strong, healthy, and self-sustaining adult. I’d rather be successful through faithfully discipling the one, than siring numbers of spiritual births left unattended to die for my self-glory.