We hear this term all the time in both the States and in the Amazon, as to what is driving us in the day to day decisions that we make. When asked what’s new, often the response is something akin to, "I’m just trying to survive!" We even hear this in the church and in those who call themselves followers of Jesus. I wish they were talking about spiritual battles but typically they are talking about surviving on the earth or in their ministry.
I recall Jesus saying that He would have His followers abandon this philosophy (Mt 6:33). Why? I think it has to do with trust. He said that this is the life motivation of plants and animals, and people of the world, those who don’t know of another kingdom, one with a caring and powerful King who has said that He would care for those things necessary for survival (if survival is best), such as what to eat and where to live. Is energy devoted to earthly survival and success stolen from energy for seeking the fulfillment of His kingdom here on earth? Is our survival up to us? Or perhaps are we instead called to abandon our pursuit to survive and devote ourselves to Him and our relationship with Him, doing what He would ask of us instead of doing what is needed to survive? Is it true that He may ask us to do something detrimental to our survival? Could ever our "failing to survive" (or our illness, injury, difficulty, poverty, etc) benefit His Kingdom more than our survival? Wasn’t this perhaps the case in Jesus’ life and in the lives of many in the early church? Paul did not struggle, for example, with the fact that he spent many of his ministry years in prison (awaiting execution), not exactly "surviving" well or achieving "success" in ministry.
Might many of us who love Him be called today to abandon our pursuit of survival or earthly success for simple obedience to what the King might be asking of us?
We see this same drive to survive in ministry and missions. So much time and energy is put into getting the ministry to survive instead of abandoning care for the success of the ministry and asking Him what He would have us do. This seeking of His heart and desires is the key to the Kingdom. The lives of Jesus and those who followed Him are quite instructive. They built nothing of an earthly "organization" that would survive them or carry on the work. They invested themselves in people, one on one and in small groups, and trusted God with any long-term success or growth.
In our work here, we are investing in a few, and soon we will move on. We will support, encourage, and help, but we will leave, trusting that our Father can care for them better than we can. The survival (sustainability) of our work, and the success of these trained few, will be left to our Father. We will teach them to be dependent on Him and to receive all they need from Him. This is a Kingdom principle. The work is His, and we are temporary instruments used by Him in His growing His Kingdom. By exerting control and "planning for success", we can stifle the dependence on Him that is foundational in any Kingdom work.
I think of a carpenter who, this moment picks up a hammer, the next moment a screwdriver, etc. The goal is His, the timing of the work’s completion is His, the decision as to the impact of each tool is His. As tools, we must remember our humble role and our lack of control in the success, the beauty, and the stability of the ongoing work.
If we run ourselves ragged to see our work grow and prosper (success), we are living dependent on us rather than on our Father. The temptation to strive to produce something good and healthy and long-lasting is so real! There is caution advised in missionary circles of not "leaving a hole" when we move on. This can only occur, however, if we create dependence on us and not on the Holy Spirit. So many beautiful people burn out in ministry and in missions. Why? They forget their calling. The pursuit of success is exhausting and successful ministry is NOT their calling. They forget the simple relational call that began their ministry and that they are but tools, used periodically and temporarily in the hands of the Carpenter. They wander from their calling and pursue success rather than the voice and will of Jesus, and burnout.
Our survival and the survival of our work is our Father’s responsibility. Our responsibility is to see where He is putting the light and step there, trusting Him and His purposes with any results or outcomes. We are to listen to what He would have us do, trusting that the eternal fruit will be worth whatever price (usually in suffering) that He may ask us to pay.
Will you join me today in abandoning the goal of surviving, and the pursuit of earthly success, whether in business, health care, with your kids or in your marriage or ministry? Let’s step away from the pursuit that creates in us a false sense of fulfillment and trust our loving Father to meet any need that we may have, and seek to simply obey any request that He may have of us, today. This decision is full of earthly risk and you will feel the insecurity. But your goal is security in Him, and to step toward Him you must step away from the things that hold you. Many times each day, this decision to choose His will over yours (His voice over all the others) , and to abandon your pursuit of personal happiness, survival and success, will be yours to make again.
Discipline, perseverance, and teamwork are keys to survival in battle.
Every organization (and family) will have conflict within. Recognizing and addressing it effectively (not its absence) is the key to unity.
Self-less love, doubt-less faith, and hope without moments of despair are not possible in this life.
Grumbling/complaining is one of the most powerful forces in every organization.
One cannot build or lead a strong team if he/she takes disagreement personally.
Enter a relationship with exclusivity and commitment once in your life.
How you see yourself greatly affects how you see others.
Few things remind us of our mortality more effectively than illness and pain.
Balance maintained between work, leisure, and relationships will yield long-term benefits.
To learn, one must want to learn.
Medication is a tool for the care of one’s body even as a wrench is for an engine and a hammer is for house maintenance.
To consult a physician for a health issue is the same as to ask someone to pray for you or to seek out a mechanic for automobile care, or an architect for home repair.