Success is…Faithfulness

I’ve gotten through my main point and am wrapping up the gospel presentation, I’m finally ready to invite this audience full of college students to consider following Jesus for the first time.  I arrive at THE BIG ASK, the call to faith, praying silently that someone would just stand upAnyone?  Bueller?  The awkward silence is getting longer.


I have been consistent in both discipline and loving attention.  I have displayed firmness in my stance and gentleness in my voice. I’ve done basically everything the Supernanny says and I am exhausted from it all. And right on cue, brother tackles sister again and sister talks back again and I have to go out to the laundry room so they don’t see mom’s crazy eyes.


I had been feeling (discerning?  thinking?  imagining?) God’s direction to lead a prayer meeting at church.  Tons of people were going to come, of course!  Except it is usually just me and one of the pastors, I forgot how boring prayer meetings sound to other people (myself included a lot of times) and I feel silly and insecure and entirely ineffective.


A missionary shared recently at church about friends in Syria who have seen 1 or 2 conversions over the last TWENTY years.


Strong Christian parents praying endlessly for their adult children who have chosen to walk away from the faith.



No, I don’t think so.

In a culture of input = outcome and practice makes perfect, life lived in the upside down Kingdom can be frustrating and confusing.  While success SCREAMS AT ME to be measured in numbers and results and happy endings and ‘yes mommy’ and ‘yes Jesus’ I find myself trying to find hope in a world of ‘no mommy’ and ‘no Jesus’ and asking the question “Why bother?”.

Why bother with the discipline?

Why bother with invitations to faith?

Why bother cleaning the floors when they are just going to mess it again by evening time?

Why bother going?

Why bother giving?

Why bother sending?

Why bother praying?

Where are the results?  Where is the revival?   Where is the miraculous story I can write in my prayer letter?  Where is the assurance that my children are going to turn out okay?

Where is the success?

If I were asking all of these rhetorical-but-not-really questions to Jesus, which I guess I sort of am, I imagine he would come back at me with a question that made all of my questions seem a little empty.

Why are you worried about the outcomes, Kirsten?

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.  Luke 17

Scripture is clear that God cares A LOT about our faith.  What kept Anna the prophetess praying?  What brought David to face Goliath?  What brought Moses to confront Pharoh?  What brought Mary to the manger?  I don’t need to go on but I’m sure you could add a lot to this list or just read Hebrews 11 for a re-cap.

Being faithful is me acting out my faith in God and his ways – even though I have no idea what the outcome will look like.

And I am REALLY thankful that mustard seeds are so small.

Because sometimes my prayer meeting feels smallActually, sometimes my prayers themselves feel small.

Sometimes my kids’ progress looks small.
Sometimes conversion numbers are small. 
Sometimes the impact appears small.

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…

When we are faithful in our giving, we have faith that God will take care of our own needs.

When we are faithful in speaking (and writing), we have faith that God will use our words.

When we are faithful in our parenting, we have faith that God will love and pursue our children in ways that we can’t imagine.

When we are faithful to mop the floors AGAIN, we have faith that God will lead us in strength and contentment to do the work set before us.

Jesus does not ask me to be successful, but he invites me to be full of faith minute by minute.

The mustard seed rests in my hand.  It feels insignificant and miniscule, like it might slip through my fingers at any moment.  So I best put that baby in the ground.  And then allow it to sprout.  And then allow it to grow.  And then allow the branches to spread wide and broad enough to create a home for birds and shade for tired souls.

Maybe I won’t get to see that seed again after it is sown into the brown dirt, but maybe I’ll get to be the one flying on a nice tire swing from that big, strong branch.  Either way, I will be faithful.
mustard tree“It was during your talk that I became a Christian” my friend told me, who had recently left atheism for faith in Jesus.

My failed call-to-faith.  But nobody stood up…

“I was just sitting there listening to all the words you were saying and all of a sudden, my heart changed”.

My failed call-to-faith.

My faithful call-to-faith.

I later had the privilege of praying through the Psalms weekly with this girl, of baptizing her, of helping her to lead her own small group, of praying for her during a trip to Kenya, of standing aside as she grows as a minister in her own right… of seeing a grand tree growing out of something that felt so small. 

Jesus help me to be faithful today. Jesus help me to go when you say go, stay when you say stay, give when you say give, pray when you say pray, speak when you say speak, be quiet when you say be quiet. I won’t always understand what you are doing, and I won’t always see ‘success’ as I think I should, but either way, I will be faithful

To read my other two posts on what God has been teaching my about my thoughts on success, click on these:
Success is…Laughter
Success is…Submission


4 thoughts on “Success is…Faithfulness

  1. Jody

    We have to be kindred spirits. Just today as I was vacuuming I was writing a blog post in my head titled “Why is success measured in the positive?.. when God uses the negative (pain) to make me like Him? Love this post!!


    1. Kirsten

      we are kindred spirits! I am thankful for my older, wiser ‘cousin-by-marrige’ even though we have only met in person a handful of times 🙂


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