Taking on a project the Lord gives us is as exhilarating as it is challenging. At first, the idea that God thought of you and decided to entrust something close to His heart into your hands seemed almost insane, right? “How do I not mess this up?!?” were the first thoughts that ran through my mind when I started this blog, and it was a driving force that plagued me over the first few weeks. Thankfully, I got over that sense of panic, but it was replaced by another insidious thought: “How do I make this a success?”
Success. It’s a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately. What is it? What does it look like? How do I know when the benchmark is achieved—actually, what is the benchmark??
But, wait. Wanting to be successful can’t be bad. The more people know about our project, book, song, or mission, the more people God can touch. It’s win-win!
I’ve listened to a ton of Christian marketing webinars that hang on the idea that God wants you to be wealthy because you can do more good with a lot of money than if you were broke. Coming from a more traditional Christian background where people in service for the Lord often depend on financial gifts and support, it was a bit of a shock to hear that. But, really, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that point of view.
Success in itself isn’t a bad thing. I mean, why would God give you a gift or talent and send you out into the world to use it just so you can fail?
I think it’s why we seek success and how we do it that are the issues.
So, what is success? The answer is simple: submit your heart, dreams, and expectations to God and He will work it out according to His master plan. The key point is the latter half of that sentence.
Did you catch it? Read on for specifics.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
So, faith is the real measure of success. And God is the one who brings the results. We need faith to step out of our comfortable world and take on a new challenge, faith that we will have access to the resources and support to accomplish that challenge, and faith that He is working on our behalf even when we don’t see the proof of it.
When God communicates His intention to us, He makes it His responsibility to see it through. Not because we are special, particularly gifted, or have earned it, but because He intends to use what He put in us to reach the world. His desire is to reach hearts, touch and transform lives, and ultimately save the lost. From that perspective, it makes sense that God would ensure that His plans work out!
But what happens when a holy God has people of flesh to work with? We get excited, start off on fire for God and then—
-become lost, confused, disappointed, frustrated with God
-we doubt our Call
-we lose sight of the vision
-we begin to think that failure is a reflection of our self-worth
-we try to force it to work in our own strength
Ultimately, the variables in that list go on and on. To be honest, against God’s ‘still, small voice’, the bombardment from social media almost makes it feel like there’s no contest. We are blasted with blog posts, Tweets, and emails reminding us that we don’t have enough blog hits, or that our sales conversion rates are too low, that our branding sucks, or that if you can’t sell a book it’s because of 900 different reasons, etc., etc.
How can we not feel like failures?
There’s no judgement from me, believe me. I’m right there with you, fighting my own battle to stay the course. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m writing this. It’s been a particularly challenging few weeks and writing this post is my act of faith.
If you’ve been having a rough week, feel like you need help to reclaim your vision or sense of purpose, or have some other need, don’t keep it to yourself. Go back to your Call and bring it to God. Ask Him to refresh the vision, to soothe your heart, and to clear your mind so that you can see clearly. If you need prayer or want to talk more, write me. Or, reach out to someone you trust. But don’t suffer alone.
We are stronger together.
And we are unstoppable with God.