I’ve already failed my “no sugar for a month” challenge. I was doing so well until we hit the part of the week when our pantry and fridge start to run out of good food options and I find myself staring into the shelving hoping SOMETHING healthy might suddenly appear that I would want to eat. Snacking on organic date balls covered in coconut flake can only take a girl so far, and finally I caved. A cookie here, a bowl of s’mores cereal there and I was done.
Instead of allowing myself a momentary pause in my goal, I went all in on the sugar train.
I don’t miss the irony that a month spent exploring God’s view on success has me failing at what I thought would be a simple activity. And it also made me realize that when it comes to success, I have found that I not only completely on myself to make it happen, I also have an “all or nothing” definition of it.
- Success = never eating a sweet treat for an entire month
- Failure = enjoying one of my husband’s fantastic cookies and then diving head first into the sugar bowl
- Success = never having a moment of weakness, struggle, disappointment, shame, or rejection
- Failure = experiencing all of those and then diving head first into the pity party bowl
If we accept how the world views success then, sure, that would make sense. We need to hustle, strive, and make the magic happen on our own. Relying on others is a sign of weakness and if we share too much, they might just steal our ideas, take the credit, or no longer need us. We manipulate and manage and cling to anything that might make us have job security, even at the risk of burn out.
Success in God’s kingdom is different. In an upside-down way that only God can create, we find ourselves succeeding in life when we become less and Jesus becomes more. We can put a checkmark in the “winning” column when we acknowledge that we are weak, but we can “do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13). When we allow God to manage our plans, He will set us up on the right path (Prov 16:3). When we choose to serve instead of strive, using our resources to build His kingdom instead of hoarding things for ourselves, God promises rewards (Matthew 16:26-27).
Choosing to be weird for Jesus when it comes to success means that we stop trying to do what the world is doing and do, instead, what Jesus is doing. It might mean standing out instead of fitting in, saying “no” to good opportunities that your soul isn’t ready for yet, using your work to honor God, giving to others instead of getting for yourself, or scheduling time to rest instead of working 24/7.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Unlike my view of success, this is not an all or nothing definition. With God we have grace and forgiveness, mercies that are new every morning. A misstep on the path He has placed before doesn’t mean that we’ll never find our way back – it just means that God will be waiting there for us when we return, helping us to see the next right step He wants us to take.
This week, think about how your definition and experience with success lines up with what Scripture says – then ask God to help you find a verse, song lyric, or quote that you can keep nearby to remind you to return to holy hustle when you start to strive, doubt, and wander.