christine clling

A New Perspective on Hustling For Success

Our culture makes hustling, working hard, and success into the things that will give us ultimate joy and satisfaction. We conclude that if we have those things then we will be happy, have peace, and have satisfaction with life. Unfortunately, all of these things are dependent on us, and therefore dependent on our performance and effort. If we fail or don’t meet up to our own standards, we start to feel like we’re not enough or lacking in some way.

The answer isn’t to run away from success, nor is it to work harder to be successful to numb the feelings that say we’re not enough. The answer is first found by redefining our definition and idea of success altogether.

Success: A New Definition

Our culture defines success as a life filled with prestige, money, power, acclamation, fame, and met goals. If we, too, believe even on a small level that this is the definition of success, we will have to achieve those things to feel successful. That sounds very simple, but it’s true, right? Then we have to endlessly strive.

A Christian can define success very differently: as a life lived entirely for the glory of God.

Living for the glory of God looks like: dedicating your whole life to knowing him and making disciples and loving him and others.

The bible defines success with humility (Col 3:12), building God’s kingdom (Matt 28:19), living for God’s glory, and abiding with Him (John 15:7-11).

Colossians 3:17 says “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Whatever you do. All things. The unseen things, and the seen things the world considers worthy of acclaim. All. Things. We are free to work for success because it will glorify God, and we are free to work without acclaim or success because it is also done for the glory of God.


{Take the Self Esteem Gospel Quiz: How do you view today’s popular messages?}


While God asks us to do something to glorify Him, it’s different than striving for the success of the world. We can do the things we do every day, if they align with God’s word, for his glory. We don’t have to strive for the approval of other people or ourselves, because God will tell us “well done” (Matt. 25:23) if we do anything that glorifies him. One definition of success leads to life, joy, and satisfaction and the other leads to burn out and feelings of never doing, or being, enough.


You Don’t Have To Prove Your Worth Through Success

I wonder if a big reason people in our culture are obsessed with achieving success is because so many deeply struggle with shame. “If I could be successful,” we reason, “and have the appreciation and accolades of others, my pain would go away.” Or at the very least, “If I’m successful, I’ll be so busy I won’t have time to think about the pain or insignificance I feel.”

Even if those aren’t our reasons, if our self-worth and identity are tied to what we do and what we accomplish, we will always strive to feel like we’re enough.

Hustling for success requires us to prove our worth, but Christ has already defined it.

When we acknowledge that we are not enough but that Christ is, we can rest in God’s power that becomes enough in us. When God is not the source of our contentment and joy, we will always strive for more. There is a fine line between working hard for God’s glory and working hard to find our contentment, joy, value, and worth. So much of what the world preaches is the latter.

When we search for joy and contentment apart from Christ, we are really trying to find freedom from our insecurity and shame in things other than him. True joy, security, affirmation, and freedom from shame come through Christ, not in anything we can or cannot do.

Here are some signs you may be looking to success to cure your shame and inadequacy:

  1. Striving
  2. Never taking time to rest
  3. “If I could just accomplish ______ I would be happy”
  4. Idolize successful people
  5. Compare yourself too much to successful people
  6. Believe that successful people are more happy and satisfied
  7. Immediately set a bigger goal the moment you achieve it and never appreciate the one you just met.

There is only one solution to your shame, and it’s not found through your success, or believing in yourself, or defining your truth. It’s only found in Christ.


Hustle For Success…For God’s Glory

If our definition of success is a life lived for the glory of God, we should use our “success” in some way, big or small, to teach and encourage others to do the same. This aligns with the mission Jesus gave us right before his ascension to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We can use our influence, leadership, podcast, books, parenting, friendship, mentorship, or business to teach others how to grow towards maturity in Christ. Or we can use it to spread the gospel. When we view our business as something that will only give us success and acclaim, we miss the point and opportunity to make disciples and glorify God through it. Our business and success are foremost to bring Christ acclaim.

God wants us to be successful–by his definition. He wants us to work hard. But he doesn’t want us to be successful so we can glorify ourselves. He wants us to glorify him. Our goal is to build God’s kingdom, not our bank accounts or podcast or email subscribers {though these things are fine}. But mission has to come above platform. All of those things can be ways to build God’s kingdom. So “hustle” to build your business or podcast or write that book–so you can glorify God and make disciples.


Read the other posts in the “Self Esteem Gospel” Series


Girl, You’re Not Enough

Self Love: What Its Message Gets Wrong

The Self Esteem Gospel



September 10, 2019

Self Esteem Gospel

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