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“By today's ministry metrics, Jeremiah is a failure. His audience rejects him, and he despises the job that God has given him. Yet Jeremiah does not quit! When God calls a man into the ministry, it isn't a call to success, but a call to die to success,” Iva May said in the 365 Daily Devotions. 

Success is an interesting concept. When I think of someone successful, I think of certain attributes that you probably do too. Big paycheck, fancy house and car, vacation homes, healthy and happy.

But my view of success is changing as I get older. I realize now, that I really just want God’s approval. I want to please Him. If he blesses me with the big paycheck — I’ll deposit it and gladly spread the wealth around. I really don’t want a bigger house, because I can’t keep the one I have as clean and organized as I’d like. I love my beautiful blue Ford Edge, so I don’t need anything different to drive. I wouldn’t mind a vacation home closer to our Florida and Costa Rica kids — but that’s just another house I’d have to clean! Healthy and happy — At this moment in time, I do feel healthy and happy. I feel very blessed that I can work out, walk, enjoy my job, church, our family and my life.

I know some incredible men and women in ministry who haven’t built up large church congregations, but they are staying faithful to what God has called them to do.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, reading the Old Testament can be very dis-heartening. You read where God tells the Children of Israel to destroy all the man-made idols and only worship Him. Yet, it isn’t long before they follow after the gods of their neighbors. It makes me just want to scream, “Don’t do that!!! You will regret it. You’re family will suffer for generations. You’re children will kill each other. Famine will come upon your community and you will fight over whose baby to eat next.”

I just can’t imagine going that low. At times some families sacrificed their kids to foreign gods. That’s not part of Almighty God’s plan! Why not just choose obedience to God? Sure everyone goes through difficult times, but the difference is knowing that God is aware of the difficulty and He is right there helping you through it.

Someone just yesterday said their child asked them, “Why do we study history. What good is it?” Well, we can hope that we can learn from our mistakes and we won’t fall into idiotic traps again. But the Bible records chapter after chapter of stupidity … and apparently the human race never learns from it.

I remember my mom saying, “I just want obedience,” when asked what she wanted for her birthday or Mother’s Day. Now I understand. Having children who obey and live peaceable with other and family members is priceless.

That’s what makes a successful community, too. Care more for someone else than you do for yourself. Let someone else go first. Doesn’t it feel good in the grocery store, when your cart is full to the brim, and you let someone with one loaf of bread cut in front of you? Then when the tables are turned, you just pray that someone will be nice to you because that gallon of milk is cold and heavy!

Rethink your definition of success and watch how you judge the success of others. I’ll need to apologize to Jeremiah when I get to Heaven. He’s a great writer, but the content God told him to write is difficult to read.

If you really want to rethink success, read the biographies of early missionaries like Adoniram Judson, William Carey, Fred Donnelson. Some were blessed with lots of converts. Some worked for years to only have one. God will call them successful because they obeyed His calling.

Don’t be afraid of what God asks you to do. Be obedient and you’ll be successful in God’s eyes.

Donna has written for the HDT for more than 19 years. When off the clock, she enjoys writing for children, teaching piano lessons and being a pastor's wife. The Braymers have three married sons and daughter-in-laws and 9 grandchildren.

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