Position and status, popularity and friendships, revival with miracles and wonders, mega churches and large crowds… These are not in and of themselves what defines success in the kingdom of God. Pursuing those things out of our own ambition to prove something, to prove God, or our need to feel important, in the end only produces, pride, a false sense of accomplishment, elitism, exhaustion, and disillusionment. It will not sustain.
It is being in God’s will, by being close to him, knowing him and hearing his voice and obeying, that define success in the eyes of God. Even when we are very flawed and imperfect. The poor widow who gave her last coin without anyone knowing (she didn’t talk about it on Facebook) and the prostitute who poured her most expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus instead of selling it for money to give to the poor (did I mention she was a prostitute?), were acknowledged by Jesus as truly successful people in his kingdom. They moved his heart.
In the eyes of others they seemed unimportant and were mocked. But what they did, they did out of love and devotion to him. Yes, crowds and large buildings can be his plan, fame and popularity can be his will, they are not wrong and they are good. But if they are accomplished without love, if they are being pursued with pressure and the wrong motivations, they are just dust in the end.
The widow home alone who prays, the single mother barely making it (and maybe who doesn’t even attend church), the struggling addict who made it another day sober, the hard working father, the missionary in a remote village, the starving artist, all who might not have time to devote to church activities, who don’t really have time for trendy church small groups and cool Instagram pictures, but are doing what they know is God’s will for their life the best they can to please him, they are a success to God just as much as the church with a million people or the blogger with a thousand followers or the popular worship band with the new album and adoring fans.
His ways are not our ways and God’s definition of success is not always what we think it should look like. Big or small. First or last. The kingdom of heaven is an upside down, beautiful way. The will of God is different for each of us, and that’s okay.
Mandy Caris is a relational leader with strong prophetic insight. She has a unique ability to disarm emotional barriers and guarded hearts while drawing out the giftings and talents of others. She loves art of all forms, but thrives on Holy Spirit inspired creativity. She is intense and passionate about those she loves, but most of all, she is a deep-hearted worshipper and lover of God. She is the proud mother of two growing boys.