I’ve been writing quite a bit lately about how to go about starting a real change in your life. I believe that everyone has a change they should work on, whether that’s a moral or personality issue like losing their temper too easily, an addiction like gambling, or simply a way to improve their lives. Rooting out the bad habits and starting good ones is a wonderful thing. Changing your heart is much better still.
The best changes, though, are the God-inspired and God-aided ones.
One thing God has been dealing with me on is my motivations for writing. I have to admit that there’s a part of me that wants to make a fair deal of money from the books. Part of me wants to go into a bookstore and see what I’ve written on the shelves. The former is based in part on a desire to support my wife, myself, and our future children, but both are based in large part on ego.
There are two problems with this. The first is that it’s wrong to use God’s work for your glory. God doesn’t exist to honor you; you exist to honor Him. He doesn’t owe you anything, even if you give your life and everything else you have to Him, because He has already given His infinitely more valuable life for you. God often chooses to bless those who serve Him well because He loves us, but He owes us absolutely nothing. If you’re using your calling to honor yourself, God will not be in your work. You may become wealthy and famous, but you won’t be blessed by God, and His gifts are always better for you in the end.
Second, you can’t control the results. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” God gives each of us a calling in life, but rarely does He tell us the outcome. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were called to warn people of God’s wrath and impending punishment. A few people listened, but it seems they were largely disregarded. The fact that they were ignored does not mean that God was not with them, though. It does not mean they did anything wrong or didn’t give it their best effort. It was not on them to ensure results, only to obey God in what He bid them.
Whatever your calling is, whether it’s to talk to one person one time and plant a seed in their heart that will eventually lead them to Christ though you never see it, or to become the next Billy Graham, preaching to millions worldwide, God will not demand specific results of you. He just wants your obedience. It is on Him to provide the results.
As one last point, keep in mind that His idea of success almost certainly differs from yours. For example, as my wife sometimes has to remind me, if God had me write my books to reach only one person, and that person got the books, then He’ll consider my ministry a raging success. All the effort I’ve put into writing, editing, and getting them out won’t guarantee my definition of success, nor His if I do it with a wrong heart. All I can do is serve Him willingly and wait for His results to come in.