“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Cor. 10:31

How do you measure success?

I’ve struggled with this question lately, especially in writing a blog.

Up until a few months ago, I was a technological dinosaur. Email was as far as I ventured in the social media realm. But blogging has me in places I never thought I’d travel—WordPress, Facebook, Twitter. I avoided them like the plague, not wanting to put myself out there for all to see. But God had other plans for me. And so, here I am…a blogger.

Articles will tell you followers and views and likes and shares are how to measure success in the blogosphere. Stats are plastered on each webpage—from blogs to Facebook to Twitter to every other online community. It can be overwhelming. And, sadly, I find I can’t look away from them.


I peek to see how many people read my blog post and how many likes it receives. I eagerly await emails announcing a new comment and check the share buttons at the bottom of the page to know if people thought it was worthy of sharing with their friends. Frankly, this is embarrassing to admit—this obsession with approval.


Do you find yourself doing the same thing—seeking approval?

This phenomenon is not just limited to the World Wide Web. It rears its ugly head in everything we do—our work, our home, our family, our friends, our church, our community. We crave attention, don’t we? I know I do.

The sad reality is too often I focus on myself. I wonder how my actions or words will be received. I get swept up comparing my work to others who are considered the best at what they do. A whirlpool of desire for acceptance, applause, and admiration sucks me in. And while spinning around and around in this inescapable vortex of selfish ambition, the joy in life is thrown out. I become trapped in a swirling circle of discouragement, insecurity and fear. Creativity gets sucked under and productivity drowns. And I have nothing to give.

Only then does it hit me—something critical forgotten: God is the reason for this blog!

The world’s definition of success screamed so loudly I bought into it and quickly forgot my purpose. This writing venture is a calling from the Lord. God has given me a story—the story of my life, yes, but much more. He has given me the story of life connected to the God of all creation– a testimony to His existence and His loving work in my heart. How profound the words sound or whether people are wowed should not be a concern. The purpose is bringing glory to the Most High God!

HE should be the focus–always. His truth…His calling…His outcome.

Only when we fix our gaze on God’s purpose in what we do can we bring Him the glory He deserves. Only when we prayerfully depend on Him to transform our meager efforts and humbly present them to Him as a precious offering will His true beauty shine through.

God’s own Word tells us:  “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).


Not our glory. God’s glory.

Ann Voskamp said in speaking to writers: “We need to be passionately uninterested in the outcome of our words beyond our faithfulness in writing them. Success in writing is faithfulness and obedience to writing what God has called you to.”

“Passionately uninterested in the outcome…”

A far cry from obsessively checking the stats and seeking approval.

We must commit the results to God–to be faithful in following His plan and leave the rest up to Him. He alone has the power to bring His desired outcome from everything we offer Him.

1 Corinthians 3:7 says: So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Only God…makes things grow. Only God…brings the outcome.

How, then,  should we measure success?

By living our lives each day in faithful obedience to His call–for His glory.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Oh, how wonderful if we could fully grasp this truth. It would remove discouragement, dissolve insecurity, eliminate fear, and bring back the joy in serving Him.

The stats and worldly measures of success will always be before us, but we must strive to turn our heart’s eye away from them and focus on the LORD.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Success is measured not in outcome but in obedience.

The glory is His. The outcome is His. The privilege to serve Him is ours.

Dearest Lord, help us to serve you in faithful obedience in all we do. Help us leave the results of our efforts up to you and seek only Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



All Scripture is from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Ann Voskamp, “Conversation with Ann Voskamp,” COMPEL Training, November 18, 2014.

Internet photos by Sabra Penley.

Trees photo by Jeannie Fletcher, licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0. Dark frame, overlay and text added.



Filed under Glory, God's Works, Self, Success

24 responses to “Success!

  1. Melinda

    Thanks for your honesty. So true for me, too. I hate that I desire approval of others! God’s Glory is all that matters!

    Melinda =0)


    • Your comment, Melinda, reminded me of Paul’s words in Romans 7:15 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do.” This is so hard, isn’t it? I’ll have to go back over that whole passage in Romans 7! Thanks! I’ve been praying for ya’ll!


  2. Oh how true Sabra! Thank you for the reminder!


  3. So true! I watched a documentary recently titled “I Am” – the story of humanity evolving from cooperation to competition. It really had an impact on me. Lovely beautiful words you have written. You Are A Success!!


  4. Sabra, reading this was a perfect way to start my Sunday!


  5. This is so true and encouraging, Sabra. Since I’m Involved in ministry in the MidEast where fruit is SLOW in coming, I constantly have to remind myself that success is being faithful to obey and serve God out of love. The results are his!


    • I can only imagine how discouraging it could be for you. Isn’t it wonderful that God doesn’t expect us to meet quotas, just to be faithful! Praying God will cover you with His confidence, encourage you with hope, and fill you up to overflowing with His love!


  6. Kasey Hanson

    Thank you Sabra! Truly a breath of fresh air.


  7. Feeling sad and longing for my mother today, I blogged a little and then deleted the post. It was forced and phony. It was clearly attention seeking…I want my words to enrich and comfort, not create pity. Thanks for this post!


    • Lisa, praying for the Lord to wrap His loving arms around you right now. Take a moment to just rest in His embrace. And when the time is right, when you’ve been filled and comforted by His presence, may His words overflow right through you. Blessings to you!


  8. Such truth Sabra, and you said it well. I’ve been blogging since June and I have learned to not obsess over the statistics and all so much but it is still a natural tendency. We must focus on God and the rest will fall into place. Great post!


  9. joiemccutchen

    As I sit, frustrated and doubtful, feeling like my next writing is too dark, too harsh, too this or too that. Afraid that readers will think I’m too raw; I just decided to stop for a moment and read a little. That’s when I came across this post. Reminding me that it doesn’t really matter. God is asking me to write it, because someone (maybe only one) needs to read it. Worrying about getting an approving nod from the world is silly….and kind of shallow. I needed to get my perspective straight. Thanks.


  10. Debra Hood


    Thanks for sharing with such honesty and grace. This type of “seeking results” or “seeking perfection” translate into other areas of life than writing. As a recovering perfectionist, I can truly say it is so freeing to “let go and let God”. That doesn’t mean hard work isn’t involved, but I don’t have to worry about the outcome. Imagine how we must limit the work of the Holy Spirit when we get in the way! Stay true to your calling!


  11. Well, I was raising my hand throughout most of this blog! Yes, Sabra, that’s been me! I hate to admit it, but find comfort knowing I haven’t been alone. I have really tried hard this past week to not let the “stat sucker” zap me of my worth and my call. I know you are right when you say…”HE should be the focus–always. His truth…His calling…His outcome.” And I’ve been telling myself that over and over. Thank you for your honesty and for giving me someone else in the same shoes to relate to. Glad we are in this together. Keep writing. God is using you! 😀


  12. This was a real encouragement. God has put a heavy weight on my heart to start a blog, and I am super scared! This comforted me. Thank you!!


    • Congratulations on moving forward with starting your blog. I was in the same place four months ago. A great blessing to me in my writing journey has been Compel Training (connected with Proverbs 31 Ministries). Are you a part of this? The training has been a tremendous help in learning the ins and outs of writing and blogging. But an added bonus is the member community forum where we interact with each other–lots of encouragement, tips, critiquing. God’s blessings to you in your new writing venture. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s always great to connect with a fellow blogger.


Leave a comment here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s