Understanding Success in God’s Eyes

Arena Men, 

Thankfulness to Black Friday and Cyber Monday

In one day, the switch flipped. In one day! 

On Thursday, we were thankful. On Friday, we were standing in line at O-dark thirty waiting for the store to open to race for that flat screen we had to have. On Sunday, we exhaled, only to hit the “Proceed to Check Out” button on Cyber Monday. The only limiting factor is how much money we have to spend. 

Thankfully, because of our son’s college football playoffs, we escaped the spending insanity, but it got me thinking, “Is how we define success Biblically accurate?” 

Jesus, the Bad American

Jesus is not only the ultimate alpha man (Revelation 22:13), he is the example all should follow. To call oneself a disciple of Jesus is to obey his teachings and his example, which causes my American mind to laugh out loud, since Jesus was never recognized for his famous carpentry skills. In fact, he quit his job at 30 and was supported by random women, had to call on a miracle for food multiple times, and was ultimately buried in a borrowed grave. 

Jesus was homeless. That’s right. The ultimate anathema in America! He had no place to put his Christmas tree! In Luke 9:58 he matter-of-factly admitted it, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 

We should rethink our definition of success!

My Three Sons

I have three wonderful twenty-something sons. Two are college graduates who purchased homes with no outside help. The youngest will officially graduate after finishing up his college football season, where he has started in more consecutive games than any player in school history! 

Are they successful? Many would say, “Yes, in spades!” 

But I don’t care what others say. Neither should you. The question for all is, “What would God say? How does God define success?”

My sons were raised by loving Christian parents—loving mother and engaged father—in affluent America. These alone have set the stage for their success in life. Of course, they are doing well. But is that success? Is it in money? Big house? Social media fame? All the newest toys?


It is giving their lives radically to Jesus Christ, living in Biblical obedience, and pursuing His plan for their lives no matter where that may lead. Anything less than that is functional atheism. Jesus said it best, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

A Homeless Man’s Definition of Success

I laughed as I drove by a man holding a cardboard sign that said, “I bet you can’t hit me with a quarter!”

He was right. I missed.

Just kidding. 

Are you willing to listen to a homeless, jobless, Savior of the world when he defines success? 

For I have come down from heaven,
not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me.
~John 6:38 

He even taught us how to pray for success! 

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
~Matthew 6:10 

The Cost of Success

Success is for a man to discover his why and then live it out boldly. The world is looking for great men who are not motivated by money, fame, or power. Men who are unwilling to shrink behind the affluent allure of cultural norms, but their “why” is radical obedience to the Savior—Jesus. The problem is that the world judges success on different scales than God’s. And that’s okay, because the world is wrong, and you are too if you think success is found in anything before pursuing God passionately. 

Warning: This will cost you your life. Proceed with reckless abandon!

Grow in your passion for God by listening to episode 500 of the Men in the Arena Podcast

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Becoming His Best Version,