Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Success as God Defines It

Dannah Gresh: As we look at the life of Jesus, He wasn’t concerned with increasing His audience or building His platform. He was more concerned about hearts. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We have to be willing in ministry, if we’re going to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to say and do things that will actually diminish our platform.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for March 12, 2020. Nancy, the last couple of days we’ve been listening to messages from our Sisters in Ministry Summit this past fall.

Nancy: Yes. What a joy it’s been, Dannah, to reflect back on that event where we gathered with twenty-seven women for a week of fellowship, encouragement, prayer, sharing, study of the Word . . . just an opportunity to invest in the next generation.

Dannah: It really was a wonderful time, Nancy! And one of the messages that was really impactful on my heart—and many of our hearts—was by Laura Booz on the topic of serving the Lord with gladness. 

In fact, in case you missed the message just a few days ago, here are some highlights.

Laura Booz: My five-year-old daughter, knowing that her older brother loves homemade whipped cream, picks up the glass bowl of whipped cream and skips around the table, to deliver it to him.

And you just can’t get any better than this! This is like a scene out of the New Jerusalem for a mother! (laughter) But on her way, she slips! And that sweet five-year-old lands on her rear end with a thud and the glass bowl shatters into hundreds of shards . . . and the homemade whipped cream flies everywhere!

So . . . she’s crying (for so many reasons!), her older brother is crushed (because of the tragic death of the whipped cream!), and looking at the shards of glass on the floor, I suddenly realize, “There are twelve bare feet at this table!” 

So, not to mention that it’s eight-fifteen and they haven’t eaten yet, and this type A homeschooling mom has scheduled for us to be in the living room reading our Bible at eight-thirty! So I’m starting to feel the stress, and the tyranny of the urgent prevails. And I had a big question before me: How am I going to respond to this sudden crisis?

Dannah: If you’d like to hear that message in its entirety, you can go to ReviveOurHearts.com to pick up at the beginning of Laura’s message and hear the whole discussion that resulted from it.

Nancy: Yes, the Lord really worked in a great way in many of our hearts during the discussion that followed Laura’s message. A lot of the women in that room have various kinds of public platforms in ministry. They have social media platforms. They’re doing some speaking, some blogging, some writing.

When you have that kind of visibility, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to wrestle with misplaced ambition of seeking bigger platforms. And as we talked, we reminded each other that when we ask how to grow a better following or make a bigger difference in more lives, we’re really asking the wrong questions.

Instead, we need to be asking, “How can I be faithful in this area of my life and ministry that the Lord has entrusted to me?” And then, let Him produce whatever results He wants.

Dannah: Yes, Nancy, it doesn’t matter how big your platform or if your platform is just your own home, where your family is watching you. We have to remind ourselves that, ultimately, everything we do is for His glory. Today we’re going to finish up our conversation on serving the Lord with gladness . . . especially when our agendas get interrupted!

Nancy: Yes, that’s something I deal with every day of my life, and perhaps you do as well. So maybe something in this conversation will resonate with you. Let’s listen in.

Dannah: I think the Lord wouldn’t be pleased with me if I did not share this conviction. And as I look around, I think it might be one that some of you share . . . because, by virtue of the fact that you’re here this week, you have husbands who are rock stars! They served you this week by taking care of your children and releasing you and blessing you.

Even when you don’t have children—either you’re before that or after, in empty nest—I see a lot of husbands who just don’t want their wives to be gone overnight. There’s no one to cook for them, and there’s no one . . . and these are sometimes even pastors. I’m traveling with their wives, and they’re calling all weekend long, because their husbands aren’t entirely releasing them.

And so, you’re here . . . released . . . and blessed . . . and served joyfully by your husbands. I was really feeling convicted as all this was going on that my husband serves me with far more gladness than I serve him!

I wonder if that resonates with some of you—that he hasn’t been programmed by the feminist tendencies and the feminist philosophies and the feminist language. You know, I’m constantly finding new ways where the Lord is revealing to me: “You didn’t think you drank the Kool-Aid, but you took a sip!” 

I really just want to repent of that. I encourage you just to rise up to serve your husband with the same joy and gladness that he serves you.

Woman 1: My husband heard a speaker at a conference (I wish I could cite him, but I can’t remember who it was) say that the great idol of our age is the idol of Potential. He was so struck by that and thought that it was so well-put. I tend to agree with that, the idol of Potential.

But all of this makes me think about the original lie that Adam and Eve believed in the Garden, that “you can be like God.” Tying in Laura’s talk, if our work is to say “yes” to Jesus’ work of redemption—and Jesus is Lord—then it’s just making me think about my own heart. 

How much of the root of me wanting to do not the small things but the big things, is because I just want to be Lord. I just want to be like God. Thank you for that Laura, because it’s helping me process through what’s at the root of that sin. I’m sure that it’s not always at the root, but I think a lot of the time it probably is for us.

Like, “This is an interruption to my agenda, because I just want to be Lord. But I’m not. Jesus is my Lord. So I can receive this with gladness and say, ‘Yes, Lord, I will serve You!’” So, thank you for that.

Woman 2: I really love that quote, that our work is to say “yes” to His work of re-creation, and how every act of service is in some way God, through Christ, recreating and making all things new. That was really powerful for me! 

I was thinking about your comment, Laura. Before I got married, I had more public ministry . . . not public, public, super wow. It was before social media, but it was pretty public. I am the daughter of a very well-known man, and so I had a reputation and a name. 

Then I got married, and I moved away. I went to another church. I was unknown. I felt like the Lord plunged me into a season of obscurity! And I have chafed against that a lot! At different times, the Lord has reminded how much God has so much unseen work that is giving Him glory.

Think of all the stars that are singing right now, that we can’t hear, or the flowers at the bottom of the sea that are beautiful, and no one can see. It’s all giving Him glory! Like, is He worth it? And so, is He worthy enough for me to clean up the yogurt spilled on the floor, or wiping my son’s bottom, or whatever it is. 

Is He worthy of me doing the small work of just writing a small Bible study for my daughter, that maybe will never get published for anyone else to see, but it’s blessing my daughter. Like, is He worthy of that and can I serve Him gladly?

Kristen Clark: I just want to share something along the lines of being addicted to “big,” because that’s something that I wrestle with; we’ve talked about this. I think you know recently, just in our culture, there’s this rise of female power leaders. There is this call to be like a “lady boss” and to be “a queen” and to build your platform and to make your name great.

I was following some of those. I was just like, “Oh, I need some practical inspiration for platform-building.” And I just realized that as I would see those posts on Instagram, it was not good for my heart! My focus was just being turned to the numbers and the platform and the stage.

I was thinking more and more about, “How can I grow this? How can I make this bigger?” And then people would ask us questions like, “How are your books doing? Where’s your ranking on Amazon?” I don’t know if any of you authors have looked at those rankings, but . . .

Woman: None of us look at those . . . (laughter)

Kristen: It can become so addicting. I have to just not do it. Like, “I don’t need to know; I don’t need to see. It doesn’t matter; that’s not the point.” My heart gets so pulled that way. Then when we have a conference, I feel the spirit creeping up because people will start asking early on, “Well, how many registrants? How many people are coming?” 

And you want to be able say, “It’s the biggest sell-out ever!” Sometimes it’s not. I’ll find myself saying, “Oh, well, it was just early registration, we’ll get more later.” You know, apologizing. Then I’ll wonder, What is going on in my heart?! It’s because I know I’m focusing on building my platform, building my kingdom. 

Then I look at the life of Jesus, like you were saying. He would walk away from the crowds, the crowds of thousands, because they didn’t want to hear His message. They just wanted to take from Him. He wasn’t into building His platform in that way. It wasn’t about the numbers. It was about discipleship, about hearts, about building His kingdom.

And so, just an encouragement to all of us, I think. We have to be careful about who we follow online . . . and if those messages are turning our hearts away from building God’s kingdom—and building our own platforms, building our own numbers. We need to just remind ourselves that God is building His kingdom. 

He is more committed to that than we are committed to that. We can trust that. If the work we do impacts one child, impacts one woman who reads that book, who reads that blog post, and she draws closer to the Lord as a result, that is a success!

Nancy: That was Kristen Clark. Thank you, Kristen, that’s priceless. We have to be willing in ministry, if we’re going to follow in the steps of Jesus, to say and do things that will actually diminish our platform. I’m thinking about John chapter 6, how the multitudes followed Jesus . . . why? Because of the meat and the miracles.

They were in it for what was spectacular, what was self-satisfying. But when Jesus said, “I’m the Master!” Oh, they were not so interested in that message anymore! And so it says at the end of John 6, “After this many of his disciples [many of his disciples!] turned back and no longer walked with him” (v. 66). 

And Jesus, you just imagine Jesus as a man, “. . . said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’” (v. 67). Like, it was down to nobody! “Do you want to go away as well?” Now, Jesus being a man who walked always in obedience to the will of the Father, was not discouraged. He didn’t sinfully respond to the crowd’s going away. And, actually, when it came to the cross, they all did go away as well! 

So His platform is getting whittled down, whittled down. It’s getting big, up like a rocket, then down like a rock when He says truth.

If our aspiration—and we wouldn’t say it, but if we feel it—is to build a platform for ourselves, then we’re either going to be really sinfully discouraged when the platform doesn’t grow the way we’d hope and/or we’ll find ourselves changing our message so that it can puff the platform.

If we’re going to be true to the Word of God, we are swimming upstream, we are counter-cultural. We’re dealing with a remnant of true believers who want Christ, and really want Christ more than they want anything else.

Isaiah and Jeremiah, between those two prophets, they preached for ninety years. And God told them, knowing all along, that basically the nation was never going to receive their message! 

I mean, we get responses, we hear amazing testimonies. We get the joy of people saying, “I read your book . . .” or “I heard your program . . .” or “I listened to your podcast and it changed my life!” That’s an incredible joy! But you think of ministering faithfully—one of them for forty years, the other for fifty—without ever getting that kind of response! And they did not change their message!

There were plenty of prophets in that day who did have crowds and who did have followings. People who thought they were great, but they were false prophets! So if we’re going to be true to the Word of God, if we’re going to be true to Christ, our message at times is going to drive people away.

Now, we want to make sure they’re not being driven away by the packaging, by us being unkind or rough-hewn. We can drive people away either because we’re boring, or because we’re boorish (I just thought of that!) It’s us driving people away. So we want to be wise, we want to be winsome, we want to be grace-filled, but the truth is never going to be the broad way.

Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to life; broad is the way that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13 KJV. If that’s my goal—to have a broad following or to have a big ministry—I’m going to likely, at some point, lead people on a path to destruction. 

I want to lead them on a path to life! You do, too, that’s why you’re here. We want to be speaking truth, but we’ve got to realize most people don’t want the truth! The majority of people—even sitting in our churches—do not want the truth.

Now, our heart is to win them to the truth, it’s to gain their hearing and their follow-ship of Christ. But if I’m really secretly or subtly wanting to gain a hearing or a follow-ship for myself, or to make a name for Revive Our Hearts or for Nancy, then I’m going to subtly (and I think it happens subtly) adjust the message so it doesn’t offend.

Well, the Cross is an offense! It is an offense, so we’ve got to be willing. Small is not virtuous in and of itself, but neither is big. So our point isn’t to be small or to be big. You can try to have a small ministry and still be self-centered! It’s like, “We’re pure.” You just read some of these blogs and bloggers today who make a living out of condemning and criticizing the whole body of Christ. They’re small and they’re proud of it! 

I’m not going to name names, but we could all be in that camp, too. That’s not the point. The point isn’t to make people mad. We want to gain glad, happy followers of Jesus as Lord—but followers of Jesus! So how are we building His kingdom? He’s building His kingdom, by the way. We’re not the ones. He doesn’t need us to do that.

So, even the language . . . I’ve said it many times myself: “We want to try and build the kingdom of God.” Well, He’s building His kingdom, but what can we do as His faithful servants? Doing whatever He has put in front of us, and that may be in the walls of our homes. If we’re not doing that faithfully, and with a glad heart, then what right do we have to say anything to the whole rest of the world?

I mean, truthfully. If I’m not happy to serve my husband, to bless him, to meet his needs in every way possible, then what am I doing trying to meet the needs of the women on the planet who are listening to our podcast in 200 countries? Like, there’s something wrong with that picture!

But there’s something beautiful about the picture—and all of you, in different ways, have exemplified this. The fact you have that DNA is why you were on the list to be invited to this event. I’m not saying there are not others who have the same heart, but all of us—with the best of hearts—can just subtly, gradually move over into a heart that isn’t pure.

I want to say that success is not a friend to grace. Thank God for the blessing when He brings it, but remember . . .success is not that you got more “likes.” (I’m preaching to the choir, you know this.) Success is not that our book won. (Robert and I disagree whether it’s up or down to go closer to the small numbers on Amazon rankings.) And there are, right now on the Amazon rankings, some really good books—including one written by women in this room—that are doing really well on the Amazon rankings. And I say, “Praise the Lord!” I’m so thrilled for that!

One question is, “Can I rejoice as much in another’s success as I do in my own; can I be as generous with my own praise of others’ good works as I want others to be of mine?” But in the end, that’s not success. 

Success is faithfulness—faithfulness in the little things, faithfulness in the big things—and not making the measure of it my concern. Now, how we do that, how we flesh that out, how much time we invest in social media and all that? That’s a question we’ll talk about this afternoon.

But what a good discussion this is for our hearts! So thank you, Laura, for sending us to the Word, taking us to the Word, illustrating it out of your life, and telling us about that beautiful, idyllic morning . . . but also about the part we would just as soon others not see. 

Faithful ministry is letting others see where we walk with the Lord, where we fail, where we repent, and where we receive grace. You all do that so beautifully, and I’m so grateful!

Dannah: Are we giving glory to God in every aspect of our lives, in the big things as well as the work nobody sees? When we define success as faithfulness, our perspective shifts. A weight falls off our shoulders, and we don’t have to try to gain more followers, more clicks, or more likes. We simply respond in faithfulness and obedience to what the Lord sets before us, no matter how big or small.

Nancy: And, Dannah, don’t you find that that’s really freeing? It’s not my job to get a bigger platform or a bigger ministry, but just to obey and be faithful to what the Lord is putting on me for that day? 

Dannah: You know, it really is freeing, Nancy. In fact, since November, I’ve been able to let go of some things where maybe I was a little addicted to “big,” or addicted to numbers, or planning my own way. And I have experienced so much more freedom! The stress and anxiety of “trying and doing” for God is just kind of relinquished to “being” with God.

Nancy: And isn’t there peace that comes with that as well?

Dannah: So much peace!

Nancy: We’ve just heard the last part of a discussion on how to serve the Lord with gladness, a message that applies to every one of us, no matter where or how we’re serving the Lord. 

Dannah: That conversation was taken from our Sisters in Ministry Summit. We held it here at our National Ministry Center this fall. If you’d like to review the entire conversation, look for Serving with Gladness on our website. You can find that at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy: We’ll be hearing more from the Sisters in Ministry Summit in the coming weeks here on Revive Our Hearts. I’ve been passionate about an event like this for quite a while now, learning from and pouring into the next generation, and it was such a joy to watch God bring that to fruition!

Our Monthly Partners play a huge role in making events like this possible. And actually, Dannah, several of the women who were part of this summit—including yourself—are Monthly Partners with Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: Yes. You know, Nancy, Bob and I love supporting Revive Our Hearts. Each month when we receive our Revive Our Hearts devotional, that’s an opportunity to remind me that I’m also praying for the ministry. I just put my hand on the envelope and I ask the Lord to bless whatever’s going on today . . . in whatever country it’s going on.

There’s so much joy to come alongside this ministry and give and pray, and see how the Lord is changing lives in so many ways across the globe.

Nancy: Our ministry functions because of the faithful commitments that people like you, Dannah, and Bob and the commitment that our partners make every month.

So I just want to take a moment and thank every one of our Monthly Partners. If you’re supporting this ministry through your prayers, your financial support as part of our Monthly Partner Team, God is using you to make a significant difference in the lives of women around the world. Thank you so much for your partnership!

Dannah: One of those partners, Nancy, is Kristin. She found Revive Our Hearts ten years ago when she was at a crossroads in her marriage. She went online looking for insight to help her marriage and ended up at our website. As she listened to the program, her heart began to change, her relationship with God began to change and her marriage began to change.

As she continued listening to Revive Our Hearts, she eventually became a Monthly Partner, and because of the program, Kristin was able to connect what the Word of God says to her real life. I love what she says: “I caught the vision of Revive Our Hearts because I was a product of the vision.”

Nancy: I love that, Dannah, because as she was being ministered to, she wanted to do the same for others.

Dannah: Yes, she goes on to say, 

Being a Monthly Partner was a natural expression of gratitude for a group of people who care enough about women to call them to Christ, center them on the Word, and send them back out to tell others.

Nancy: I love that! As Kristin has found, being a Monthly Partner isn’t just giving money. It’s investing in the kingdom “for such a time as this.” (see Esther 4:14 KJV) In her words, she said, 

Your return is greater than your dollars as you see others find freedom, heal their marriages, and become your sister in Christ. It really doesn’t get better than that!

Well, we’re so thankful for people like Kristin, who have seen firsthand how the Lord is using Revive Our Hearts and are partnering alongside us. As donations fluctuate throughout the year, we’re especially grateful for the Monthly Partner Team, because they provide a stable support base that this ministry really needs.

And not only do these partners support us, but we love to invest in our partners! So, all of our Monthly Partners will receive one free registration to our True Woman ’20 conference in September, in addition to other resources that we’ll be sending you throughout the year.

Dannah: Have you been thinking about becoming a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner? We would love to have you join us, investing in the kingdom work of sharing the gospel everywhere! Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to find out more or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, if you’re ever tempted to panic, you’ll want to be sure to tune in tomorrow. Mary Kassian has some important things for us to remember when we’re facing what she calls “panic producers.” I’m Dannah Gresh. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Pointing you towards success as God defines it, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries

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