Today we are continuing our conversation on Success. We are talking about trust and trustworthiness, and how to measure those.
The drive to succeed is powerful.
People endure pain to succeed. Some sacrifice nearly everything for success. They change directions, do the unexpected, attempt the impossible, burn bridges, and run into the uncomfortable.
The drive to succeed is extremely powerful, and may be dwarfed by only one other thing.
The fear of failure.
Are you more motivated by the drive to succeed or the fear of failing? How do you know?
Last week we started our conversation on success by focusing on the value and impact of determining the environment in which you evaluate success.
Corner Church success is evaluated by whatever is animated and motivated by our faith in Jesus apart from all of our church activities.
Apart from Church calendar stuff, What we doing because of our faith in Jesus?
Sometimes it’s easy to turn success into a prescription.
Make a million dollars in a year. Hit a goal weight of 135 pounds. Have your kids never be impolite ever again. These measures of success can be helpful, but they can also be confusing, distracting, guilt-inducing sources of pain.
In church, we could frame success in these ways. Thousands of people in attendance. Millions of dollars given to missions. Having really nice facilities and full programs. These are good things. But maybe they’re not the fullest measures of success.
In faith, success is when you have finally “done the thing God called you to do.” Plant a church. Become a missionary. Be a pastor. Lead a connection group. Be part of the worship team. Read the bible 173 days in a row. Pray for an hour without getting distracted.
Let’s revisit this question from last week.
What impact does it have on you if you start evaluating your engagement in “being the church” by looking at what you are doing outside of the church calendar?
As a Christian and as a church our goal is not to divide up life. We’re not trying to compartmentalize faith. Success in one area of life while miserably failing in another might not be success.
When talking about success, and especially about trust, there can be some detrimental byproducts that occur in process. Guilt. Shame. Insecurity. Inferiority. Pride. Discouragement. Twisted identity. Choosing to quit.
We are familiar with the concept of byproducts. A steam covered mirror after a shower. A stomachache after eating candy for breakfast. But in the middle of pursuit of success it can be easy to ignore these byproducts.
Reflect again on the parable Jesus told of doing good “unto the least of these. As we were preparing for this week, we talked quite a bit about the idea of motivation. How two different people can produce the same actions but have wildly different motivations.
This parable shows two people. One who does something without realizing or being motivated by it being done as unto Christ. And one who does not do something because of the absence of the motivation that it would have been done unto Christ.]
What do we learn about the byproducts of motivation from this parable?
We could make this very prescriptive.
Thank you Jesus for this parable. Now I know that when I am doing stuff or not doing stuff it is unto you or not unto you. Thanks for that motivation. Now I will do stuff. Because I know!!!
But the reality is that God calls us to be people of character. Not just to be motivated by someone to have character. I need to “be,” not just when external motivation is involved.
What is the difference between a person that needs external motivation and a person that doesn’t?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
When I remove the church calendar things I do, Do the words of Micah 6 describe me?
Having a desire to please God. When I remove church calendar things, does this describe me?
The Psalmist writes of a drive to please God.
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened— burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
Having an upside down measure of success. When I remove church calendar things, does this describe me?
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Being energized by relationship with God. When I remove church calendar things, does this describe me?
Jesus was interacting with the Samaritan woman in John 4 when the disciples came back and were set back by his connection with her, but then they encouraged Him to eat something. He responds by saying my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
When I take away church things, do these things still describe me?
Responding to simple instructions.
Having a desire to please God.
Having an upside down measure of success.
Being energized by relationship with God.
Measuring success by what’s going on internally.
So how do we go from someone who just does trusting/trustworthy without internal reality to someone who has internal trust/trustworthiness?
Think about being and doing as a picture of an iceberg. That all of our being is what’s below the surface. Our worldview, assumptions, beliefs and values. And that all of our doing is the top of the iceberg. Our behavior. What’s visible above the water.
Culturally we look at church and faith as based mostly on the top of the iceberg. Behavior. The externals. What we’re doing. But there’s so much more to life and faith found within the being, and it’s meant to be the base or foundation that the doing is built upon.
Micah 6 sounds like a list of to-do’s, but it really is a list of to-be’s. Right before in chapter 6 the prophet lists all of the things that the people had previously done in order to fulfill covenant with God. The doings. Then he basically says that these things are missing the point, and gives them another list of sorts, one that has to do with internal being.
Justice. Mercy. Humility. These are internal realities that lead to external actions, rather than being the outside things to accomplish that somehow build an internal reality.
Why is it so easy for us to approach life and faith as though we need to do in order to succeed and be someone? Instead of being in order to succeed and then be empowered to do things?
Why is it so easy for us to approach life and success through the lens of prescription instead of description?
What are the differences between being and doing when it comes to trust/trustworthiness?
I can have my behavior be trusting and trustworthy without any worldview beliefs or values that line up with trust and trustworthiness. YUCK.
I would love to be able to see clearly in my life to be able to eliminate the pursuit of just trying to do a bunch of good stuff without an internal reality of being. That I’d be free to focus on what’s below the surface and to literally let the above the surface stuff be a byproduct of what’s going on down there.
When it comes to fear of failure or impossible drive to succeed, I can’t really be trusting or trustworthy if I’m stuck in either of those.
Think about all of the roles you take in life. Again, this isn’t a vacuum, but try and think about these things objectively. Who are you in those roles apart from all the things you do in them?
As a friend, co-worker, spouse, parent, etc. Apart from what you do in those things, who are you in those things?
The reality is God looks at us and calls us trustworthy. Before we ever did anything to prove him right or wrong, he decided that his position toward us was “I trust you. You are trustworthy. I trust you to love people and do all these things I’ve called you to do because it’s who I have made you to be.”
What do you need to process today in order to have more space/time/energy to just address “being”?
Take It Deeper Questions
Read Micah 6:1-8
When have you felt undeserving? Undeserving of a good thing or a bad thing.
What does it mean to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Why does God ask for these things specifically?
Where have you had evidence of these things in the past?
How did those moments look, feel, impact yourself and others?
How are you focused, challenged, encouraged by this text in Micah?
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