Relax by Changing Your Definition of Success

Your life is fast. And busy. And stressful.

Need a breather?

Head on over to Tom Basson’s blog today, where I had the privilege of guest-posting and sharing 16 ways you can take a few minutes to slow down and relax. (Thanks to Tom for the opportunity!)

I think there’s one important key which really forms the backbone of relaxing in our hectic lives: it’s not about how busy you are, it’s about how busy you feel.

Ironically, the best way to feel relaxed is to remind yourself that you’re only human. There’s only so much you can do. But here’s the great part: there’s only so much you’re expected to do.

Lesson from a Mission Trip

I accompanied an experienced evangelist on a foreign missions trip. He was on fire, sharing the gospel with nearly everyone that crossed his path. I was inspired by his boldness and his love for the lost.

But the biggest lesson I learned from him was his definition of success.

Success is being faithful. Success is being obedient.

We’re not judged by God based on the results of our efforts. We’re judged based on our faithfulness.

If we shared the gospel to the best of our ability, we could walk away with our heads held high regardless of what happened. If the Holy Spirit chose to move and convert souls, then we were successful. If people sneered and insulted us, then we were still successful.

Back to the “Real World”

But this idea isn’t just for the mission field. It’s for all we do every day.

If I’ve done the best I can as a businessperson, then I can relax and leave the rest up to God.

If I’ve done the best I can as a father, as a husband, as a teacher, as a leader, as a follower of Christ, then I can relax and leave the rest up to God.

The same goes for managing my schedule, balancing my checkbook, cleaning my house, and knocking items off my to-do list.

Just Human

We generally don’t like to admit our shortcomings – but here, it’s a liberating thing to do.

A great deal of our stress is caused when we want to take on superhuman responsibility with our only-human ability.

In A Praying Life, Paul E. Miller puts it well:

Anxiety wants to be God but lacks God’s wisdom, power, or knowledge. A godlike stance without godlike character and ability is pure tension.

Whose Expectations?

God knows and understands that you can’t do everything. After all, he’s the one that made you.

He’s not a harsh taskmaster driving you forward with a whip.

You’re the one with the whip.

God beckons us to rest in him, but we keep taking on more and more and more.

Perhaps because we define ourselves by our accomplishments. Maybe we want to selfishly bring glory to ourselves instead of God. Or maybe we’re trying to earn God’s love and approval instead of realizing we already have that through Christ.

Defining success as obedience frees us from worry over results. No more sleepless nights mulling over things we can’t change. No more dreary days trying to force square pegs into round holes.


When your plate is full and your pace seems hectic, take a step back. Just be faithful. Just be obedient.

Rather than trying to act like we can do everything, trust the God who actually can do everything.

Do you need to change your definition of success?

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  • For so many years I struggled with this issue. I saw myself as a failure because of comparison to others. One day it dawned on me that God does not see me as Failure vs. Success. He was more concerned about me being faithful to the calling He has placed upon my life. Changed everything! Thanks Loren for a good boost this morning.

    • Glad it was helpful! It’s tough to keep up with the success of everyone we see all around us. The good thing is we don’t have to.

  • I agree Loren. This has been a slow realization for me…and an even slower change of mindset. I completely understand the idea and fully agree with it. I just find it difficult, at times, to execute.

    I still drift back to looking at the results to determine success. I just need to keep reminding myself. Your post helps with that!


    • I can remind myself of this truth in the morning and need to remind myself again a few hours later. I think it’s a continual battle against our flesh. Let’s keep fighting the fight and be faithful!

  • I’m heading over to read your guest post now, but before I do I wanted to comment on this one.

    I completely agree with everything here. Remembering whose expectations I should care about is the key to real success. As you said, God wants us to do the work well and let him handle it from there.

    However, after just launching my first ebook, I’m pretty anxious to see it if goes well. All I can think about this morning is “I wonder when/if I’ll make my first sale”. I’ve been working non-stop on this thing for weeks and it’s very difficult to give it to God at this point.

    But, per your advice, I’m going to take a break this morning, breathe for a bit, and enjoy Monday with my wife.

    It’s the only thing I can do now. lol

    • Faithfulness can still be very active. You can pray, you can evaluate your actions, you can promote the Ebook. But if you’ve given everything your best and been faithful throughout, then you’re a success. Here’s to your success in every sense of the word!

  • Loren great post. Being a manager in the secular business world it’s very easy to lose sight what success is in our Lord Jesus Christ. In the busines world we define success by quantity, and pay lip service to quality. With God making a true follower of Jesus Christ is worth more than filling a church with people who don’t want to be there and don’t trully love Jesus. God Bless.

    • That’s a good point; there are lots of ways our definition of success needs to change.

  • My definition of ‘success’ has changed. When I was young it was all about material things. Then, Jesus Christ came into my life and that attitude was adjusted. Now, success comes in the quiet of my prayer and Scripture time, it comes in the beauty of seeing a sunset or walking my old dog. Success is my loving family, friends and neighbors. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t feel like the wealthiest woman on the planet because I have the Kingdom of Heaven….

  • Great reminder on what true success is. Giving our best to what God has called us to do is so essential. Success does not come by doing more it comes by being faithful to what God has given us. I think we often take on more than what God has given us, when we should step back and focus in on the areas he has entrusted us with.

    • That’s an excellent application of this post. Part of our faithfulness is concentrating on the right things and ignoring other things.

  • Love this post. Have to give God our best, and trust He’ll take care of the rest.

    • That’s a pithy way of saying it – I like that.

  • “Anxiety wants to be God but lacks God’s wisdom, power, or knowledge. A godlike stance without godlike character and ability is pure tension.” Couldn’t agree more. Rest and balance are both so crucial, and you’ve covered the topic well. Thanks for the good word.

    • I loved that quote too, Stephen. “A Praying Life” has really been an eye-opening book for me.

  • Hi Loren,

    You had me at “Your life is fast. And busy. And stressful.”
    What a perfect time to consider redefining success, during the busiest time of the year.

    Happy to feature your post at The High Calling!

  • Excellent post! I especially like the quote by Paul Miller, I haven’t read that book but it sounds good.

    It’s great to know we are not judged based on results but on our faithfulness and obedience.

    Thank you for this post, it helps to be reminded of these things, especially during this busy holiday season.

    I look forward to reading more posts.

    • Thanks, TC! The book by Miller is excellent – I highly recommend it!

  • One thing I’ve been learning is that “success” really means being faithful to what God has given me to do. And being faithful doesn’t always mean that things will look as “successful” as I want them to look.

    • Good point, Benjer. A lot of times success doesn’t look like we hope or think it will. I’m sometimes my harshest critic, and I have to remind myself to relax.