Defining Success

I care about people. I love them. I love them because I love the God that created them. He’s the same God that created me. He’s the same God that saved my life! So of course I want to help Him save more lives.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. I want to achieve something not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I’m focused on those who don’t have food or clean water. I’m focused on orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help God save. This is my definition of success.

I’d love to see this approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Go anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

I’d like to see that change.

I think it starts with kids. When we approach kids with the idea of setting goals to help others, it turns out that they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with the Not For Sale campaign and the Something to Eat campaign. In those organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help save a life. They say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. In fact, I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping people in need is a priority.

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives as servant leaders. When they think of success as leadership through service, they get really motivated. They decide to be the best at what they do. They work hard to follow their dreams.

They also realize how big they can dream. Be a CEO! Be an entrepreneur! They’ll dream this big when we help them see how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to a food crisis or a water crisis. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community in need is holy. Servant leadership is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, so they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we identify as servant leaders, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can help God save lives.

It’s great to teach this to kids, but I really hope we can all learn to think this way.

See you Thursday.

Want Success? Work Wisely

Joseph succeeded in all he did. Why? Because the Lord was with him. When Joseph went to work, his bosses looked at him favorably. I also think his fellow workers appreciated him and enjoyed his company, because he encouraged them. And when Joseph did something, it produced good results.

All of this happened because he relied on God’s wisdom.

You can do the same! Right now, today, you can say to God, “Help me make a decision that will allow things to prosper in my place of work.” Allow God to talk to you and guide you. Allow Him to show you what you need to do for your employers and employees to succeed. Then you will prosper.

This is how I focus my efforts. When I was pitching, I listened to God. I wanted to be successful, but I needed His wisdom to do it. If I went to the field every day and worked really hard on being a side-armed pitcher, I would not have found success, because that’s not what I was asked to do. Or I could have said,“I’m going to learn to throw a knuckleball.” I could have worked really hard on it. But that’s not what God led me to do. Without God’s wisdom, I wouldn’t have found the success I wanted, no matter how hard I worked!

Of course there are very successful nonbelievers. A nonbeliever works really hard in the areas that he knows brings success. He goes to work and says, “I know what works, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to work really hard at it and do it well.” And he does, because he knows that success comes from hard work.

Joseph also worked hard. The difference is that Joseph worked wisely. He followed the wisdom that God gave him. Joseph didn’t do what he thought was right. He did what God said is right. God showed him what to do, and that’s where Joseph worked hard. That’s why he gained favor. That’s how he succeeded. That’s how I succeeded!

So think about this. What if that hardworking, successful nonbeliever finds Jesus? Then he will begin asking God for wisdom. He still does his work. He still works hard. But now, he does the Lord’s work too. He helps bring the Kingdom.

When he does that, he discovers a joy that he couldn’t have known in any other way. It’s the joy that cannot be matched, because it comes from God.

Now that is success!

See you Monday.

Rest in God

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
“The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 28:2-8

If you live in legalism, then you eliminate God. “But Jeremy,” you say, “I’m righteous.” And maybe you are! For example, maybe you don’t tell lies. That is consistent with a righteous life. But what if the only reason you don’t lie is because the Bible tells you not to do it?  Then you aren’t depending on God. You’re depending on rules. And what happens when you depend on rules? Things fall apart.

What if you were able to just rest in God and understand that His grace will show you the way? What if you could believe that God gives you His favor, even though you didn’t earn it? As the scripture says, in obedience to God, whatever you say, whatever you do, wherever you walk, and wherever you go, you will be blessed. Your basket will be full. Everything your hand touches will prosper. To put it as simply as possible: in grace, you will find success.

Now, success may not happen exactly the way you want it to happen. In fact, you may be surprised by the form success takes in your life. I sure was! And that’s okay. It’s better, in fact! Let God decide what your success will be. Let God show you what to do. He will show you exactly what to do so that your family will thrive. He will show you what to do so that everyone you meet will thrive. You’re on a journey, you know. You’ve just got to believe that your journey will be one of success.

What happens when you walk and talk with the people you meet? If you let Jesus guide your steps and tell you what to say, then the people you meet will feel really good. You don’t have to be super spiritual and legalistic. You don’t have to quote Bible verses at them. Resting in God is not about soapbox Christianity. It’s not about telling people to accept Christ or else rot in hell. It’s not about telling people that they’re bad. You are here to love. That is your purpose. So ask God to tell you how to love people. He will! He’s our faithful God!

What do you suppose happens when you do that? Man, the people you meet on your journey will love on you! They’ll be inspired to live a righteous life because of you! So listen to Jesus. He will help you tell people exactly what they need to hear. And when you do that, they’ll want to be around you! Maybe they don’t believe in God. Maybe they don’t do all the same things that Christians do. But you’re the one they’ll hang out with, because you won’t judge them. You’ll live with them, in grace.

Allow Jesus to guide your steps. Allow the Spirit to give you wisdom. Do this, and you will find so much love and joy. And guess what? That will be your success.

See you Thursday.

Run to God!

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to GOD! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life! Proverbs 3:5-8

As I mentioned last time, there’s a difference between going to work with a grace-based mentality, and going to work with a legalistic mentality. A person living in grace will say, “God will show me how to work to become successful.” But legalism says, “I will work hard, so that God will see how hard I work and make me successful.”

At work, you probably have all kinds of tasks to complete, and you’re probably evaluated on how well you complete them. Someone who approaches their work with a legalistic mentality might say, “Okay, I’m going to get to work on time every day. And I’m going to do A plus B equals C so that I’ll be successful.” You want to show God how hard you work so that you’ll be successful.

But what if A plus B doesn’t equal C that day? You won’t succeed! Then you’ll feel like you did something wrong. You’ll feel like God is mad at you, or that God has abandoned you. That is a horrible way to feel.

I think grace is the opposite of that. When you live in grace, you allow God to guide you. That’s what Joseph did. When people told him their dreams, God told Joseph what he should see. And Joseph said, “Don’t interpretations belong to God?”

So God might tell you, “Alright. In order to make you successful, this is what I want you to see.” And you might see something that no one else sees, because God showed you where to look. You’ll succeed, because God will show you where to focus and how to do the job.

I read this quote the other day: “If God wants to be glorified then make Him do all the work.” That’s true! If He wants all the glory, then let Him do the work!

When you get to work, sit down at your desk and say, “You know what God? Since you want to be glorified, I’ll tell you what. Here I am. I’m not going to sit here and be lazy. I’m going to be disciplined. I’m going to get here on time, and I’m going to apply myself. But I’m going to be in tune with you. Here I am, now show me. Show me what I’m supposed to do.”

You won’t just sit there and assume it’s going to all work out. If He shows you what to do, you’ll do it. Remember John Chapter 21? In that story, the disciples fished all night, and didn’t catch anything. Then Jesus told them where to cast their nets, and they caught so much fish that their nets nearly broke! Jesus showed them what to do and they were really successful.  They had breakfast on the beach with Jesus!

I think you rest in God. The Bible says you will find your success when you rest in Him. Rest in Him and say, “Show me where to work.” Be present and ready to work, and be available to hear His wisdom. He’ll show you what to do, and He’ll show you where to do it. And the next thing you know? You’ll succeed in everything you do.

Legalism vs. Rules

Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation. And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?”

And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.”

So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.” Genesis 40:5-8

When we are learning about grace, the story of Joseph has so much to teach us. It is such an apt illustration of what life can be like if we live by the Spirit. If we live by the Spirit, our deeds will reflect that. If we live in grace, then we will live a righteous life. We don’t need the law to tell us what to do. In the Spirit-led life, we know what to do.

But how can I say we don’t need the law, after spending so much time as a professional athlete? After all, if we didn’t have any rules in baseball, the game would be total chaos, not to mention boring. We need rules. Rules help us in all kinds of areas of life. Without the rules of the road, it would be too dangerous to drive anywhere. A lot of us couldn’t go to work! There are good rules everywhere for good reason, and we expect each other to play fair.

But there’s a difference between having rules and living a legalistic life. Our jobs, and the rules they entail, are a completely different issue than how we relate to people. Our relationships and our jobs are two different things. There are rules at work, and grace in relationships. I look at it this way. A person living in grace, as Joseph did, will say, “God will show me how to work to become successful.” Meanwhile, this is what legalism says. Legalism says, “I will work hard, so that God will see how hard I work and make me successful.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Which one are you?

For me, living in grace is to say, “Show me, God. Give me wisdom and show me where to work hard so that I can be successful.” And God says, “Well, okay. Here’s how you do it. Your job starts at nine. So the first little bit of wisdom? Be on time! That will create favor among your bosses.”

If your employer has told you to be at work at nine, then you have to be at work at nine. That’s all there is to it! The Bible says Potiphar loved Joseph and put him in charge of household operations. Why do you suppose he did that? He probably saw that Joseph was responsible and could be trusted with the household. As I wrote last time, Joseph lived in a time of grace, before God gave the law. How could Joseph understand responsibility, if God hadn’t yet given the law? How did he know to show up on time? Joseph knew what to do because he lived by the Spirit, and his deeds reflected that.

I have a little more to say about this next time. See you Thursday.

A Society of Servant Leaders

Sometimes people ask me, “What did it mean to you to pitch for other people? Why do you focus so much on others?”

The answer is pretty simple. I care about other people. I love them! And that’s because I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. It’s the same God that saved my life! So of course I want to help save the lives of others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. I want to achieve something not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I’m focused on those who don’t have food or clean water. I’m focused on orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help save.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Go anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

What happens when we approach kids with the idea of setting goals to help others? It turns out they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with the Not For Sale campaign and the Something to Eat campaign. In these organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help someone else. They’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping those in need is a priority.

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives according to the idea that success is for them and for somebody else. This motivates them to be the best at what they do. They’ll work hard to become leaders at their jobs and in their communities.

They’ll also realize how big they can dream. They’ll set goals to be CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs, because they’ll realize how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to food and water crises. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community in need is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, and they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we think about about how to help others, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can actually help. I really hope we can all learn to think this way.

Happy Thanksgiving! See you Monday.

A Global Society of Service

Sometimes people ask me, “Why do you say you pitch for other people? What makes you focus so much on others?”

The answer is pretty simple. I care about other people. I love them! And that’s because I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. He saved my life, so of course I want to help save the lives of others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. It’s because I want to achieve something, not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I want to achieve something for those who do not have food or clean water. I want to achieve something for orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help save.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

What happens we approach kids with the idea? It turns out they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with Team Not For Sale and the Something to Eat campaign. In these organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help someone else. They’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping those in need is a priority.

earth love

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives according to the idea that success is for them and for somebody else. This motivates them to be the best at what they do. They’ll work hard to become leaders at their jobs and in their communities.

They’ll also realize how big they can dream. They’ll set goals to be CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs, because they’ll realize how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to food and water crises. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community that does not have is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, and they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we think about about how to help others, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can actually help. I really hope we can all learn to think this way.