“I think our entire culture suffers to hear, ‘I love you whether you succeed or not. Whether you’re productive or not. I just love you.’”
– Donald Miller
Success. We all want to be successful, right? Our brains are trained to think that unless we measure up to such-and-such a standard, we will not make it—we will have no value in the world. When a business man invests in a company, he expects good dividends in return. Why would it be any different for a human? When teachers invest time and energy, isn’t it expected that the pupil will grow up and give back to the teacher by benefiting society? If not, either the teacher or the student has failed. If what we invest in does not return benefits to us in any way, it is a failure and not worth our attention. We are Westerners we are born and bred to think this way.
So if Christians do not bear so-called “fruit” (whatever that may be), they are failures right?
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:8). This is a promise, not a command. If we are Christ’s disciples we WILL bear fruit.
We have a mindset that says if something is a “failure” [that which does not fulfill our human-defined measure of success] it is worthless. This mindset causes us to look for success in others and try to copy it and we are rarely able to do so. We work and work to try to “measure up” to the talents, abilities, or success of others but we can never do good enough. We constantly fail our expectations. Why? Because our standard is falsely based on other individuals’ success, instead of God’s truth.
God created each of us individually and set us on separate paths toward success. Yes, He desires and plans for us to be successful. But what is success? Success is doing what we are expected to do, fulfilling our purposes. If someone is a mail man and he carries mail from place to place, than he is fulfilling his purpose. He is successful.
God made us with a purpose. He originally planned and still plans for us to individually worship and commune with Him. That is what we see with Adam and Eve.
So we have a function—a purpose: God created us to individually worship and commune with Him. This is our goal. This is what we fix our lives on, to fulfill that purpose. Knowing this we no longer need to measure up to the external doings of other people. When we focus on worshiping God we no longer pursue being noticed, or having such-and-such grades, talents, or status. We only pursue Jesus.
So what is failure? It is not failing a test, not getting last place in a competition, not lacking knowledge or experience, not failing in evangelism, not lacking money, or not lacking talent musically, physically, or mentally. Failure is lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ the King of Kings, the Creator, the Lover, the Savior. Jesus said “Remain in me and I will remain in you, for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me“ (John 15:4). God does not measure our “success” by what we do, but rather by who we are.
Read this carefully:
God created you to worship and commune with Him. When you are a child of God, you are walking a path of worship and communion with God. Therefore if you are a child of God, you are a success in God’s eyes. And when you continue to pursue Him and walk with Him and open up your heart to Him, He finds you more and more successful. No amount of success is too little or too great in His mind, because He loves you and He LOVES when you are successful. It thrills His heart.
Success is not something you can emulate—copy. It is personal and individual and can only happen when you are in Christ.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Salvation is extremely simple, but it is the continued walk that can be hard. Do not worry about what you look like to other people. Focus on God. Discipleship cannot be faked, so don’t try to fake it. Just surrender EVERYTHING you have and are to Jesus—and He will do the rest. This is success.