Success Redefined: How Obedience Can Change Everything

I want us to think for a minute about how we define success. Our culture defines success by outcomes. Think about it.

Was I successful in improving my health? The outcome on the scale will tell me.

Was I successful at school? The outcome on my report card will tell me.

Was I successful in my work? The outcome of my 401K will tell me.

I wonder if God measures our success differently. I wonder if success in His eyes is less about outcomes and more about our obedience.

(Yep! That word is back! If you read my blog post a couple of weeks ago, you got a healthy dose of obedience.)

This week, I read Matthew 10. Feel free to go read it! My words will be here when you get back.

Defining Success

And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.

Matthew 10:14, NASB

I was reading these words and thinking about our cultural definition of success. In this verse, Jesus talks to his disciples about sharing the gospel. If I were one of Jesus’ twelve, I would be tempted to measure my success based on the number of followers I could create after meeting with people.

Picture it. The guys would all get back to camp. Each one would be eager to share their number with Jesus. Maybe Jesus would have an Excel spreadsheet and graphs. I love data. I would have loved a conversation like this.

…and that is NOT what Jesus would have cared about.

Jesus told them to share the gospel. He did not tell them to change hearts. Success was not measured in the number of followers. Jesus measured the success of these twelve men by their obedience.

Heart change is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Friends, we serve a sovereign God. He controls the outcomes. Last year, I read the entire Bible chronologically, and I know His outcomes are better than any I could try to conjure up. He does not put that kind of pressure on me. He asks for one thing – whole-hearted obedience.

Living with Whole-hearted Obedience

Just sit on that idea for a minute. Feel how the anxiety and pressure to perform just melt away when we know that the Lord takes care of outcomes.

The Lord directs our paths. He does not expect us to achieve an outcome that He has not already ordained. He desires us to live lives of abundance in the everyday steps, the everyday obedience. 

The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it.

Matthew 10:39, NASB

Our quest for success, for finding our lives, can so quickly be defined by our culture. Culture tells us that we will find our life when we find wealth, comfort, and happiness. 

What if God has more for us? What if we get all these things and discover we still do not experience an abundant life? 

What if we start trusting that our sovereign God can manage the outcomes? He tells us that is where we will find our life.

A couple of years ago, I started a journey of getting my health back on track. At first, I tried to measure my success by the scale. I celebrated the numbers: the number of pounds lost, the number of calories burned. The success did not happen in those numbers. The success happened in my every day, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other acts of obedience. I was obedient to attend workouts. I was obedient to eat foods that fueled my body. I was obedient to hydrate well.

Today, the number on the scale has gone up a bit. In an outcomes-focused measure that scale may indicate failure. But when I measure my success based on obedience, I know better! I have found a healthy rhythm, creating a life of energy, health…abundance.

I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10b, NASB

Let us redefine success. Let us measure our abundant life by our obedience to the Lord. Let us celebrate success in relationship with our Savior.

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One response to “Success Redefined: How Obedience Can Change Everything”

  1. […] plan, my perspective told me that my hard work would ensure a specific outcome. (Check out this blog post on that faulty […]

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