How You Can Truly Succeed

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“I don’t want to be the best at anything. All I want to do is complete the assignment God has given me.” That’s true success.

I attended She Speaks in Concord, North Carolina where over 800 women showed up carrying their luggage and fragile dreams. The conference, produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries, is designed to help writers and speakers maximize their gifts of communication to glorify God. On the first day of the event, I had the opportunity to speak with many delightful ladies but one short conversation stands out.

“God has given me a book idea. I have a book proposal and I am meeting with a publisher this weekend.” She grinned. Then concern darkened her eyes. “I know there is a big chance for failure.”

My heart went out to her and I wanted to offer a word of encouragement so I said, “Well, that depends on how you define success. If you define success as obedience to God, you will never fail.”

Over the weekend, I mulled over the idea of defining success as obedience, and I considered how our society praises those who get noticed, who are the best of the best, and who are at the top of their game. Even in Christianity, we worship Christian superstars. To the world, this is success. But God defines true success as obedience demonstrated by a heart that desires to please Him. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more. Nothing less.

When I think about success defined God’s way, I have to admit there is a fleshy, carnal part of me that wants to scream, “No, God! I want to be in charge of my own life! I want controlled outcomes!” (Isn’t there a bit of control freak in all of us?) Accepting that true success is defined as obedience means I have to let go of control and let God lead and trust Him with the results.

Romans 8:14 says, “For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” And Luke 9:23 says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

God isn’t looking for self-promotional, insecure egos in need of pushing their own agendas. He is looking for those who are willing to be led by Him and are sold out for Him.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Regardless of what we want to accomplish in life, we must remember that when the need to succeed is fueled by insecurity and a desire to prove oneself, rather than by the desire to please Christ, the result will be a barren soul. Only following Jesus leads to the abundant life He promises (John 10:10).

Surrendering to God doesn’t mean we sit on our behinds. We are co-laborers with Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9). It simply means we obey God, do our work, and trust Him to bring His desired outcome and increase.

On day two of She Speaks, I listened to Christine Caine of Hillsong Church deliver a powerful message that blew my socks—and my shoes—off. One phrase she delivered has stayed with me: “I don’t want to be the best at anything. All I want to do is complete the assignment God has given me.”

Shouldn’t that be the aim for us all? That’s true success.

Digging Deeper: What is your emotional response to the truth that success is defined as obedience? Why do you think you have responded this way? Read Mark 12:41-44. How does this story go against how the world defines success? How would you define the condition of the woman’s heart? Talk to the Lord and tell Him the truth about how you define success. Finally, invite Him to speak to you about anything else He wants to reveal to you about this topic.

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