This post originally appeared here.
It sounds straightforward—like a gold-lettered mantra that you would find on t-shirts, coffee mugs, or hanging behind a desk. It’s catchy and trendy. With eager fingers we double tap and offer our virtual applause, but the truth is that this trio of words is more disruption than inspiration.
Most people, if we are honest, like the hustle mode. Our workaholism is validated by accolades as we push ourselves to grow bigger, faster, and be more productive. We rationalize our efforts with our “sense of purpose” even if we fail to see that our pursuit is after the wrong things, or leading us in the wrong direction.
The hustle itself isn’t bad, at least in the modern day context that we use it. Throughout His word, God commands us to be diligent, rise early, and work while the sun is up. While we whined over weekend chores as children, our parents droned on about how a strong work ethic is a noble character trait, and somehow it stuck. Today, we have subscribed to the positive self-talk that promises we can “be” and “do” anything we put our mind to. We need to be careful, however, that we aren’t pushing our own goals, our own ways, and our timing instead of listening and waiting for God. This is the challenge.
We agree that a deafening voice doesn’t equate an important message, but we refuse to accept that our success isn’t defined by hearts and statistics. To confess that we’re stretching ourselves too thin—exhausting ourselves physically, emotionally and financially, that would be a sign of weakness, and God’s people are anything but.
We cringe at the admission that God tends to mess up our plans. If He whispers, “Wait a minute, I don’t want you to go that way anymore,” we panic. We throw out a “Gideon fleece” and ask God for a sign that what we heard is what He really meant. (The fleece tactic that Gideon used—was due to a lack of faith, just so we are all clear.) The most traumatic moment in our career is when God asks us to lay something on the altar for a season, or worse—indefinitely. Enraged, and overcome with grief, we watch as what we worked so hard for, all of our dreams and efforts, is engulfed in flames. We forget that God once stood there—sacrificing something great, for something better. We fail to understand that what is yet to come is beyond our seemingly-perfect plan which was concocted late one night after hearing a TED talk.
There is an often-quoted story from the book of Judges that children would watch unfold on the flannel board in Sunday school. It’s the story of Gideon, going to battle with torches and trumpets.
The details, that are often glossed over, describe the dramatic way God reduced Gideon’s army before they faced the enemy. God asked Gideon to obey several specific orders before He gave them a victory. God wasn’t interested in whether Gideon could win the fight; God wanted his obedience.
To read the full article (and more about Gideon) click on over to Grit & Virtue.