Faithfulness vs. Success: Reframing Vocational Conquest, and Memory Verses to Stay Focused

Recently, we attended the worldwide Faith Driven Entrepreneur conference—a “tele-conference” that took place in hundreds of cities across the United States and globe as a whole. The conference included speakers, dreamers, entrepreneurs (of course), and therefore some truly crazy people. In short, you have to be at least a little crazy to pursue a new business by yourself or alongside friends/business partners. The truth of the matter is that entrepreneurship is hard. So hard! And it’s not something limited to starting a new LLC or launching a new product line. The term “Intrapreneur” has gained popularity as it speaks to the creativity and ideation that wells up within an existing business. In any case, to stand up for a new set of ideas or innovative offerings takes courage, because the end result is so unknown. But luckily, as we were reminded of at the FDE conference, the end goal never was or has been about “success.”

Or at least not as the world defines “success.”

What sort of words would you use to describe success?

  • Happy
  • Rich
  • Content
  • Prosperous
  • Winning
  • Grateful
  • Effort
  • Growth

The list goes on—with many words that might define your own definition of success. But in and through our visions of success, we rarely stop to reframe any given situation to consider what success really means. And why our definition of success changes the way we might pursue life on a day-to-day basis.

Faithfulness at Work

Back to the FDE conference.

Speaker after speaker, interview after interview, in RAPID succession—FDE is supported by hundreds of entrepreneurs with one goal in mind: “equipping 1 million Christ-following entrepreneurs to step into their purpose, fulfill their call to create, and transform the world around them.”

In the room where we gathered, in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, there were dozens of individuals making an impact in their respective fields. Men and women of courage who support one another in the journey, while pursuing the one God called themselves to. It made it almost difficult to pay attention to the swath of video interviews, because a large part of me just wanted to converse with those in the room—many of whom I knew in real life.

Alas, the conference wasn’t geared toward local brainstorming—it was geared toward global impact. And I can appreciate that.

One of the speakers over video, Lara Casey Isaacson, delivered at 10 to 15-minute word of encouragement, but it’s one of her last lines I haven’t been able to get out of my head.

“We’re not called to be successful, we’re just called to be faithful.”

Reframing Vocational Conquest

That line—on pursuing success—is so pertinent to the Christian entrepreneur, because although we say we want to make an impact for God’s kingdom, a lot of the “success” often gets redirected to the individual who has carried out those good works.

Entrepreneurship takes something that’s already hard for anyone—dealing with success or failure—and enhances those ramifications because when it’s all said and done, it was their idea in the first place. In other words:

  • Success. “Great job on this idea you had!”
  • Failure. “What were you thinking with this idea you had?”

  • In some form or fashion, entrepreneurship seemingly boils down to those two end results.

    But it doesn’t have to.

    Because if there is an iota of truth in Isaacson’s statement (which we have no idea if it is her own or she’s referring to a quote someone else had said before), then that should change everything about the way any given entrepreneur or intrapreneur defines success.

    Memory Verses to Help Reframe

    To wrap this up, let’s take a different angle: there are roughly 7 billion entrepreneurs on earth as we speak.

    That’s right—what if we looked at humanity as made up of billions of entrepreneurs, simply trying to navigate life in the same way an entrepreneur would navigate a new idea, set of ideas, or business plan.

    And if that were the case—7 billion entrepreneurs—what makes more sense and plausibility: to say “success” is probable for all 7 billion, or to say “faithfulness” for all 7 billion is probable.

    I think it’s the latter. Billions of people everyday who wake up and try to navigate life as best they can, just in the same way an entrepreneur might.

    2 Timothy 4:7 says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

    Paul, in his admonition to Timothy, doesn’t name success through any quantifiable measure—he names success through a faithful walk alongside God. That’s it. And what a weight off that might have sounded to Timothy or any reader of the letter thereafter.

    And in a world that loves to prop up those quantifiable metrics—likes, followers, dollar amounts—take Jesus’s words on “good deeds” to heart in Matthew 5:16 . . 

    “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Though quantifiable metrics might have looked different in Jesus’s time, he still called individuals to reframe their view of success—a daily pursuit of loving one’s neighbors, in the hopes that God and God alone might be glorified. It’s a refreshing word for those of us (many of us!) who might desire that earthly measure of success, and to hear our peers say “Well done!”

    Because in the end, only one Creator gets to say “Well done.” And that word, guaranteed, will have nothing to do with success on earth as much as it will faith in the process.