When Success Seems Elusive

Success can be hard to find when we think it needs to look a certain way.

As I entered the room, the nervous fluttering in my stomach increased although I knew I had a good plan. I felt secure in what I had to offer.

I came to my first writer’s conference with a thorough and well-prepared book proposal, a solid one sheet, and a belief that I would soon have a book contract in hand. At the least there’d be some interest. And there was … in my presentation anyway.

However, one publisher had already grabbed a similar idea from an established author. Another believed my proposal needed to be niched down. The third didn’t feel my topic fit well with her company.

I left the conference well fed with information and tools but dazed and without a contract. I failed. How did I get it so wrong?

surrender to God is the way to success

My Plan

I felt certain God had called me to write inspirational material. So, I had poured my heart into a book proposal and flew across the country to get noticed.

What I received instead was rejection. Twice more I braved and received rebuffs at conferences.

It didn’t make sense. I had done my homework and knew the path to publication. I was a good writer, a strong editor and had a desire to encourage others in the difficulties and frustrations of life. Yet success had evaded me. 

Where had I gone wrong? Had I heard God incorrectly? Wasn’t I supposed to encourage others through my writing?

God’s Plan

Later, as I continued to analyze my time at the conference and my feelings, I realized my idea of success was just that, my idea. I wanted to do something big for God, but I was leaving Him out of the planning.

He had called me to encourage through writing, yes, but my grandiose ideas for a book were mine, not necessarily His. I had drawn up the blueprint for my writing and asked God for His stamp of approval.

In my eagerness to do something big for the Kingdom, I missed an incredibly important truth: My accomplishments don’t make me useful to God or successful in His eyes, my willing and surrendered heart does.

Our accomplishments don’t make us useful to God or successful in His eyes; our willing and surrendered hearts do. #itisaheartissue Click To Tweet

A timely word written in obedience and direction from God will be far more significant than 50,000 words drafted under my own power and counsel. After all, “it is not for [me] to direct [my] steps (Jeremiah 10:28).  

Surrender and Find Success God’s Way

Many of us desire to do great things for the Lord. It’s a worthy endeavor. We want to succeed in what He’s called us to do.

But we tend to forge ahead with our own ideas of what that success should look like, forgetting He already has a plan for us. A plan that begins with surrendering those preconceived notions and following where He leads.

Maybe you, too, have a plan for what your life should look like. Perhaps you’re also confused and frustrated because, like me, God has seemingly not blessed your “good” plan.

You didn’t get that book contract.

Your stuck within the four walls of your mother’s house as her primary caregiver.

You didn’t land that perfect ministry job.

Don’t fret, and don’t run ahead of God with your own ideas of what success should look like. He has a purpose for your life and mine. And it matters … however mundane or minute it seems right now.

Wait on the Lord and His perfect timing. Seek to follow His plan, and watch Him do big things with your surrendered life.

Wait on the Lord and His perfect timing. Seek to follow His plan, and watch Him do big things with your surrendered life. Click To Tweet

“Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jeremiah 10:23, NIV).

Your Turn

Reflections: What is it you think God has called you to do? Are you rushing ahead with your plan for what success should look like, or have you surrendered it to Him, letting Him lead?

By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

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