Discipleship Looks More Like Sacrifice Than Success

MountaintopIf your ministry is about helping people reach their full potential, I have a favor to ask.

Leave me alone. Please.

I’m not interested.

Everywhere I go lately, especially on the internet, people are obsessed with helping me

  • “Be the success you were born to be!”
  • “Claim the future you deserve!”
  • “Reach your fullest potential NOW!”
  • “Fulfill your dreams and claim your destiny!”
  • and other similar goals.

These promises are especially prevalent in the hashtag-heavy Twitter profiles of self-proclaimed gurus, prophets and marketing experts.

And I’m not talking about secular folks. Those quotes are all from Christians and ministries claiming to operate by biblical principles.

They’re all promising me something next to heaven-on-earth in 7 easy steps, one life-changing principle or by following a previously unlocked bible secret.

Sorry. No.

Even if they could pull off their wild claims, I’m not interested.


My Fullest Potential Will Never Be Enough

You see, I’ve chosen to be a follower of Jesus. A disciple. From the moment I did that, I gave up ownership of my life.

My life is no longer mine. It’s his. So my goals don’t matter anymore. Fulfilling my potential is not enough. Not for me, my church, my family or my ministry.

I don’t want my best. I want God’s best. Because his ideas are different than mine. And his best is better.

Of course that’s what so many of these self-help gurus are claiming. That, whatever my dreams for my life are, God has 10 or 100 times more than that for me. (The really holy ones will use old-timey bible terms like 10-fold and 100-fold).

But the difference between my best and God’s best for me is not a matter of scale. It’s not that I’m asking for 100 and God wants me to ask for 1,000 or 10,000. Getting more of what I want is not God’s best, it’s just more of my best.

The problem with my faith is not that I’m not asking for enough things. It’s that I keep asking for the wrong things. For my things, not his things.

Actually, I need to stop asking for things entirely, and ask for more of Jesus. 


Not My Will, But…

Obviously, I’m not against people having nice things or setting and pursuing goals in life. But the idea that I know what’s really best for me, let alone that having more of it is automatically better, has no basis in scripture.

As God declared through the prophet Isaiah, “For my thought are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.

My best and God’s best are not always the same. Sometimes my best and God’s best are diametrically opposed.

For instance, Jesus said he wants me to take up my cross daily and follow him. Frankly, that’s not high on my list of things I feel like doing today.

But it’s what I need to do. Because that’s what being a disciple means.

I don’t need to “let my true self come alive!”, as one self-help guru promised me recently. I need to die to self.

And live to Christ.

I need to be less, and he needs to be greater.

He needs to be seen more and I need to be noticed less.


To My Fellow Pastors and Other Ministers

If you’re in any kind of ministry, please don’t buy the hype. Don’t believe the lie.

And don’t sell the lie to others, no matter how much they’re asking for it.

It’s not our calling to help people

  • Fulfill their potential
  • Reach their goals
  • Find their bliss
  • Attain their version of success

Or any one of a thousand different ways of saying it.

Living my life my way, even very successfully, is the very definition of selfishness – even if it’s cloaked in bible verses printed over pretty pictures.

The life of a disciple is supposed to look more like sacrifice than success.

So what do you think? Have you ever been tempted by the voices promising success over discipleship?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Mountaintop photo from Paxson Woelber • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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9 thoughts on “Discipleship Looks More Like Sacrifice Than Success”

  1. Richard Carender

    I wish I had written this! I have been preaching and teaching on discipleship for some time now. I am not yet sure how and IF it is affecting my congregation but I absolutely know how it is affecting me! Matt 16:24

  2. Pingback: Is Discipleship Quibron or Dimetapp? | The Clockwork Pastor

  3. Fr. Richard L. Jones

    It’s not our calling to help people
    •Fulfill their potential
    •Reach their goals
    •Find their bliss
    •Attain their version of success

    AMEN! It is our calling to see Christ formed IN them!

  4. I just want to thank you. I’ve heard so much of this kind of preaching and it has usually left me feeling like I was coming up short. Constantly waiting for the special “someone” God wanted me to become and always feeling like I’m not. But I was thinking about your article today, and thought that I don’t remember anyone in the Bible sitting around and going through this anquish! And you’re so right. It’s not about “ME”. It’s about Him! To strive to be like Jesus more each day, to let Him shine through me. That is the quest! To put down your cross and pick up His, “that” “is” PEACE. Thank you again and God Bless you!

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