“Obedience Is Our Success”

Epic Fail: Complete and total failure when success should have been reasonably easy to attain.Image

Have you ever experienced one of those “epic fail” moments in life where something that seemed so easy and should have been attainable fell apart?  Of course you have!  We all have.  Everyone of us has failed at something, sometime, somewhere in our life.

What is failure?  In order to really answer this accurately you have to know where your standard of success comes from, right?

What is your standard of success – at work, financially, in your home, with your relationships, at your church, in philanthropy, etc.?  If you’re like most, your standard of success has been developed over the years according to the expectations of this world.  In order to be considered successful you have to make a certain amount of money or be in a specific type of relationship, you have to have a lifestyle that meets these standards through the vehicles you drive, the toys you have, the square footage and location of your home(s), etc. The list for what we have come to understand as success is exhaustive and exhausting.

It stands to reason then that “failure” is a lack of accomplishing or meeting the standards for success that we and others have superimposed on society in our country and around the world.

If that’s the case, my understanding of success, where do you fall?  Where do I fall?  Are we successful in some things or at all?

New Standard
Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome said of the standards of this world:

“Do not conform to the pattern (standards) of this world, but be transformed (new standards) by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2 | NIV

If this is how we are called to live our lives, a process of redefining and living according to a new set of standards for success this side of heaven, what keeps us from success according to the word of God?

At Illumination Church
Within church circles around the globe there have been standards of success set up for the local church: how many “members” do you have, what is your average attendance, what’s your annual budget, how many staff members do you have, how many new salvations/conversion have you experienced within your church, baptism, sanctifications, and on and on and on…  I’m exhausted even typing up these questions that we, as Pastors and leaders, are asked and ask others in reference to success.  And these are just some of the questions that we face.

Please don’t get me wrong.  Numbers and statistics matter…WHEN USED APPROPRIATELY!  I’m a numbers guy and I do care about large numbers.  Sounds contradictory right?  It’s not!  What I mean by “I’m a numbers guy” is this: every NUMBER has a NAME and every NAME matters to God.  The more we have an opportunity to interact and engage with people, the more we get to share the gospel (good news) message of Christ and that matters!  The more we baptize; the more people are taking a stand for God and going public with their faith and that matters!  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I don’t want to be about numbers to have the “largest” church for personal gain or independent pride.  That’s not what this is about.  That’s NOT the standard of success that I have for Illumination Church.

Inside Illumination Church, obedience is our success.  Obedience is our success!

We will not be guided by a set of standards according to the world, however well-intentioned they may be.  As a church, we’re not interested in gauging our success based on the latest statistical reports from church experts or based on the bias’ of this world.  No!  Instead, we are a church that is committed to a standard that says, obedience is our success – obedience to God, to His word, to his commands and commissions.  These will form our standard of success.  Obedience is our success.

In Your Life
What is keeping you from success in your life?  It’s probably the same thing(s) that keeps me from feeling like I’ve somehow arrived or have achieved or reached or whatever word you want to use to describe your level of success.  Screwed up standards.

Last week at our Celebration Service at Illumination Church I shared a message that addresses these concerns: (Click here to watch the message).  If you missed the message, I want to encourage you to check it out as I believe that God will speak to you through what He did on Sunday morning.

What I Want You To Know
What I want you to know is that obedience to God needs to be our standard for success as individuals and as a church.  We can’t live according to the standards for success of this world and believe that this is honoring God.  I believe what we must do is shift our thinking and begin living in a way that expresses obedience as our success in life (finances, family, faith, fitness, etc.) and in our church.

What I Believe We Need To Do
What I believe we need to do is get into God’s word; I mean really dig in, and discover what His standards for success are.  We need to reprogram our minds and arrange our idea of success based on that which honors God, his Word, his commands and his commissions.  Now this will take some time and intentionality, but if we were dedicated to honoring God and believing that obedience is our success, things will never look or be the same again.

How We Do It
I’d love to give some profound insight as to how we go about re-arranging our thinking and setting up a new standard for success.  That said, I really can’t.  It’s too simple for that, and as simple as it is, we are always tempted to make it much harder than it needs to be.  How do we do it?  We put one foot in front of the other and we live it out.  That’s it.  Start with prayer.  Begin reading your Bible.  Highlight, circle, underline and bookmark everywhere and every time God sets up a standard for success throughout the Bible, specifically the New Testament (a theological discussion for another blog).  Write these standards for success down on a sheet of paper and live them out.  Become obedient to the word and the will of God.  That’s success!  It doesn’t matter what this world, which we can’t take any of with us, tells us.  Obedience to God is our success!

Andrew Anderson
Illumination Church | Lead Pastor