Admit it. Surrender is not on your weekly to-do list, included in your monthly goals, or even on your bucket list of what you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime.
You’d much rather strive for success. And if you’re like most people – believers and nonbelievers – you define success as a fulfilling and prosperous career, satisfying relationships, and a happy and productive life.
Yet, God defines success a lot differently than we do. He isn’t concerned with the amount of money you make, the position you hold in your company (or church), or how many accomplishments you’ve racked up during your lifetime. He doesn’t even care about the number of people who attend your church (that’s for the pastors reading this) or your “charitable work” or how good and kind of a person you are. God cares about who is in the driver’s seat of your life—and that is determined by your level of surrender.
In Psalm 1, we are told that the person who delights in the Law of God and meditates on it day and night will prosper in whatever he does. In 2 Chronicles 16:9, we read that “the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His….” To have a heart that is completely His is to surrender and do things His way, right down to what we strive for and how we live day-to-day.
1. Humble yourself and God will lift you up.
No one sets out to fail in life. It isn’t our goal to be last in line, unnoticed or forgotten. Instead, we are taught we must market ourselves, go for the gold, develop our platform, increase our following. Yet, God’s Word instructs: “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10)
If Scripture actually contained the verse “God helps those who help themselves,” then every Christian could rightfully be in a race with one another to secure God’s help with their success. Yet, Psalm 75:6-7 tells us there’s ultimately nothing we can do to promote ourselves: “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” Want to get that job promotion, that coveted award, that position of honor? Humble yourself by acknowledging you are in God’s hands and He is the One who promotes and exalts.
2. Quit fighting and win.
The world – and your own flesh – will tell you to work harder and strive more in order to win, but Scripture tells us: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In the King James Version, the phrase “Be still” is translated “Cease striving.” While our human nature will tell us to insist upon our own way or fight for our rights, especially when we feel we’re being harassed, God’s way is always different. It always involves trust, rest, and surrender.
When you find yourself in a battle or you feel like you’re facing a sea of uncertainty, not sure where to go next, remember Moses’ words to the Israelites as they were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
When you give up the fight, that’s often when you realize through Christ you have already won. True success is found in peace, not striving.
3. Go last and become first.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “The one with the most toys wins”–not in God’s kingdom. Jesus said: “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30).
When we surrender the need to accumulate, to have the best of everything and the most of anything, and we no longer have to be first in line, we begin to understand God’s way of doing things. Volunteer to be last and discover the unexpected joy of God giving you a “front-of-the-line” pass.
4. Give it away and you’ll have more.
I grew up learning a tithing principle that sounds like this: God can do more with 10 percent of your money than you can do with 100 percent of it. I believe a more accurate saying is God can do more with all of your money when you recognize it’s all His, anyway.
In Second Corinthians 9, we are told “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work….You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion….” (verses 6-8, 11)
Giving to God, financially, is a matter of trust. And whether or not you succeed, financially, depends on your trust as well as your goals: Is it your goal to own it all or acknowledge that God owns it all and be a part of the work that He is doing in your local church, your community, and around the world? Is your goal to give or to receive? The more you give, the more you’ll have to give. That is God’s math. And that is financial success in God’s eyes.
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5. Give it up and get it back, only better.
God tested Abraham’s level of surrender by asking him to give up his only heir and long-awaited son, Isaac, after promising him years earlier that through Isaac, his descendants would outnumber the sand on the seashore. Abraham was obedient to God’s request and God not only spared the life of Abraham’s son, but reiterated His promise to give Abraham so much more. (Genesis 22:1-18)
There may be days when God asks something of you that seems impossible, but God honors complete obedience and surrender. Often, when he asks for something, it’s so He can give you something far better in return. Jesus said: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)
By Cindi McMenamin