When You Struggle to Find Success

when you struggle to find success

How do you define success?

The other day I was reading Genesis 39 and a verse about success jumped out at me.

The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:23 NIV 1984)

Out of context this verse may not be all that surprising. If you know the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, you know that he became a ruler in the land of Egypt. Only the Pharaoh was ranked higher than Joseph. The would fit most anyone’s definition of success.

But Joseph doesn’t become an important ruler until Genesis 41. In chapter 39 Joseph is not in a palace–he is stuck in a prison. The success he had was not in ruling a nation, but in aiding a prison warden manage the other prisoners.

So I wondered, did it look like success to Joseph?

I doubt it.

Maybe he thought: Sure the warden is impressed with me. But the only people who see my hard work are the ones stuck in this hole with me. What difference does it make?

Obviously it made a difference to God.

God saw Joseph’s work and declared it a success. So perhaps God’s view of success is a tad different than the world’s definition.

The world defines success in terms of how much money you make or how many people you influence. A prisoner in a dark cell working to help other prisoners simply wouldn’t be lauded for his achievement.

So why did God declare Joseph a success? Because Joseph did his best in whatever situation life threw at him. He was responsible and accountable. He worked hard even when it seemed that hard work would not benefit him personally.

That is God’s definition of success.

I often get hung up on the world’s definition of success. I tend to pay too much attention to the “experts” who tell me I need to sell more books, have more Facebook followers, have a bigger platform. But at least for today I’m going to listen to God and embrace His definition of success: Do your best wherever you are.

God sees. God knows. God will bless your work.

Next Step: What task do you need to accomplish today? Do it to the best of your ability. Declare it a success even if no one else notices.

definition of success

Stop Listening to the Lies of the Evil Step-Sisters

Don't listen the lies that you're not enough. Believe the truth of the Prince

I love the story of Cinderella.

I mean–what girl doesn’t? Behind-the-scenes girl gets invitation to swanky ball plus a stunning gown and to-die-for shoes!

However, there is one thing I never really understood about the fairy tale.

When Cinderella’s step-sisters tell her that she is ugly, worthless, and unlovable–she believes them! I mean–doesn’t she see how lovely she is?

It makes you want to yell into the screen: Don’t believe them! You’re beautiful!

I think this is sometimes how God feels about us.

We go through our day doing our work, dreaming our dreams. All the while we hear the voices of our evil-step-sisters (a.k.a Satan) telling us, “You’re worthless.” “You’re a failure.” “You will never amount to anything.” The voices call us names like ugly, stupid, fat.

And we listen.

All the while, God is calling out to us: Don’t believe it for a minute!

John 8:44 says:

 He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan is a liar who wants us to doubt who we are in Christ. If he can’t get me to doubt God, then he will make it his mission to get me to doubt I’m God’s beloved child. If he is unsuccessful in keeping me from believing the saving work of the cross, he will work overtime to get me to doubt that I have worth and purpose because of Jesus’ spectacular love for me. Satan will make it his mission to get me to believe his lies.

Just like Cinderella needed to stop listening to the lies of her evil step-sisters and see her true beauty, we need to shut out the lies of Satan and see our beauty in Christ.

God tells us that we are beautiful, precious, and honored. He calls us His bride and His beloved child. He lavishes us with love and grace. In His eyes we are perfect because of Christ. God even tells us that to Him we are a reason to sing!

Click here to get a printable version of the image below (5 x 7 or 8 x 10). Post it where you will see it everyday.

Don’t listen to the lies of the evil step-sisters (a.k.a. Satan). 

Believe God’s truth about who you are in Christ! 

original glass slipper photo source

Gods mirror 3

How to Come Out From Behind the Mask

mask

Are you wearing a mask?

It’s Halloween and you might be dressing up for a party or donning a costume to hand out treats at your door.

But are you wearing a mask now? Did you wear a mask yesterday? Will you wear one tomorrow?

I admit that I sometimes I hide behind a false identity because I’m afraid that you won’t like the real me. I’m careful to disguise my flaws. Cover up my vulnerability.

Authenticity scares us. So we tend to dab on a mask like we apply our makeup. We cover up mistakes like we conceal blemishes.

But what does God tell us about honesty? Colossians 3:9-10 says:

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

God wants us to practice honesty with each other. Of course this means avoiding lying, deceit, and general fibbing, but I think at the root of this our Father is also telling us, “Don’t try to be someone you are not. Do try to be the person I called you to be.”

In Colossians, Paul tells us that we are able to do this because we have taken off our old self—the old self that needed to impress others, put on airs, and look good at all costs.

The new self is OK with authenticity, because the honest truth is that our new image is the image of our Creator. Romans 8:29 tells us we are “conformed to the image of His Son.” When God looks at us, He doesn’t see the mess that we sometimes see in the mirror. He sees us looking like Jesus—covered with His holiness.

When I find myself once again trying to apply a mask, I try to hang onto the truth that God loves me just as I am. He knows I sometimes struggle, but He also sees me as totally pure and victorious in Jesus. When I remember this, I am free to take off the mask and risk uncovering flaws.

Embrace transparency and experience the freedom of life without masks. 

Question: Does coming out from behind the mask scare you?

This post was adapted from my book Bless These Lips. Bless These Lips

 

 

How to Embrace Authenticity

“Hi, Erika! Great to see you. How are you?” I greeted my friend as she walked into our Toastmasters meeting.

“I’m fine.” Erika’s ordinarily smiling face was locked in a frown. Her usually enthusiastic tone of voice was transformed to one flat note.

Call me exceptionally perceptive, but I wasn’t buying Erika’s words.

It turned out that Erika had just experienced a disappointment. But even though she was bummed, my bubbly and energetic friend was still trying to sound upbeat.

How many times have you responded, “I’m fine,” when your heart was actually aching? How often have you pasted on a smile when you didn’t want others to see your pain?

Granted, the question, “How are you?” has become a standard greeting in our culture. I’m not going to tell the dentist’s receptionist the whole list of my aches and pains. The grocery store clerk doesn’t want to hear the complete saga of my flu-plagued kids throwing up all night. So I respond with the expected response, “I’m fine,” and get on with my day.

But too often we also do this with close friends. I may repeat the words, “I’m fine,” when I am actually worried about my mother’s health, depressed about my son’s lack of job prospects, or fearful about an upcoming medical test. I don’t want to appear vulnerable. Besides, I’m a Christian, right? I’m supposed to be confident in the Lord. If I admit my fear or sadness, will my friends think I’m not a very good Christian?

Authenticity scares us. So we tend to dab on a mask like we apply our makeup. We cover up mistakes like we conceal blemishes. We plump up our accomplishments like we enhance our smiles with lipstick.

But what does God tell us about honesty? Colossians 3:9-10 says:

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:9-10

God wants us to practice honesty with each other. Of course this means avoiding lying, deceit, and general fibbing.

But I think at the root of this our Father is also telling us, “Don’t try to be someone you are not. Do try to be the person I called you to be.”

In Colossians, Paul tells us that we are able to do this because we have taken off our old self—the old self that needed to impress others, put on airs, and look good at all costs. The new self is OK with authenticity, because the honest truth is that our new image is the image of our Creator. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see the mess that we sometimes see in the mirror. He sees us looking like Jesus—covered with His holiness.

When I find myself once again trying to apply a mask, I try to hang onto the truth that God loves me just as I am. He knows I sometimes struggle, but He also sees me as totally pure and victorious in Jesus. When I remember this, I am free to take off the makeup of false pretense and risk uncovering flaws.

Now when someone asks, “How are you?” think before you answer. The standard “I’m fine” will still be required in many situations, but I hope that you will find people in your life with whom you can share your struggles and doubts.

Embrace authenticity.

This article was adapted from my new book: Bless These Lips. Find out more about the book here.

To celebrate the launch of Bless These Lips I am offering some special prizes!
Get some thank you gifts for buying Bless These Lips:

If you buy the book during between September 24 and October 18, I have some thank you gifts for you! Just send your receipt to my email: sharla@sharlafritz.com

(If you buy online, forward your receipt to me. If you buy it in a bookstore, scan the receipt and email it to me.)

When I get your message I will send you through email:

  • A MP3 of my song “Make Me New” which I recorded for the DVD for my first book, Divine Design
  • My brand-new ebook titled, Lip Service: 11 Simple Ways to Change the World with Your Words
  • A set of pretty cards with the memory verses for Bless These Lips for you to print and use
  • A printable of the quote: “God has given you a unique mission to speak His words of love and grace to a lost and discouraged world.”

 

And enter a contest to win extra prizes! One blog reader will win a prize package of:
  • a signed copy of Bless These Lips
  • a pretty cosmetic bag with lip balm, lip liner, and lipstick
  • a handmade bookmark
  • a $15 Amazon gift card
  • a framed print of a quote from the book “God has given you a unique mission to speak His words of love and grace to a lost and discouraged world.”

For a chance to win this prize:

  • Subscribe to this blog
  • Share this post on Facebook or Twitter
  • Leave a comment saying you did those things and answer the question:
If you could buy one of the following products, which one would you choose and why: the Lip Balm of Encouragement, the Lip Gloss of Thankfulness, or the Lip Sealer of Discretion?

(If you are receiving this in your email click on the above title “Why a Mouth Makeover” is Important to get to the blog site to leave a comment.)

THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON SEPTEMBER 28!

 

 photo credit

A True Friend

[ Who can RESIST The Pleasure? ] Cappuccino : MAO Cafe / Bar @ The Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Republic of Ireland
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts.”
Psalm 51:6
“I told myself I wasn’t even going to talk about this,” my friend confessed as we sipped coffee together.
She wasn’t sure that she wanted to talk about all the hard stuff in her life. But I felt honored that she felt comfortable enough with me to share the tough times. After all, she had been there for me when I was in the depths of sadness. She was the one to whom I felt I could confess my bouts with jealousy, my frustration with events in my life. Even my sometimes desperate feeling that God was not really listening to my prayers.
I hope you too have a friend like that. A friend to whom you can expose your true self. A sister in Christ who will listen to you whether you are crying or laughing.
Remember, that Christ is that kind of Friend too. He “desires truth in the inner parts.” We don’t have to go to Him with churchy words, we can pour out our hearts. We can dump out all of our frustrations, sadness, and anger. He will take our anger and give us His peace instead. He will take our sadness and give us joy, our frustration and give us hope.

He is a true friend.    

photo credit

Do Not Conceal the Truth

bring the truth to light
photo by gurdonark

“I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

Psalm 40:10
Last week I had to have a test done by my dermatology nurse practitioner. I had a bout with skin cancer a few years ago, so I see this practitioner regularly. She is a very pleasant person and tries to make the process as painless as possible.

To take my mind off the test, she began asking me questions about my family and vacations. As I was speaking, I had a nudge to share an answer to prayer that I received. Now, I am not the type of person who neatly places God in everyday conversations–especially if I’m not sure the person I’m speaking to is Christian. I’m ashamed to say that I hesitate because I wonder: Will they think I’m weird? Will I look foolish? Will they reject me?
But lately I’ve been thinking that part of speaking the truth is to share God’s truth. Avoiding deception is good, but sharing The Best Truth of All is even better. I can start in small ways, telling how God is working in my life. Instead of simply trying to appear “normal” I can tell how special my God is. Instead of trying to fit in, I can risk rejection by sharing God’s truth.
My nurse practitioner did not suddenly burst out in praise of God’s answer to my prayer or ask how to begin her own faith walk. In fact, my story of answered prayer was met with silence. But I know that I was obediently taking a step of faith to speak the truth–the truth of God who cares!

Questions to ponder: Do you sometimes conceal God’s truth? How can you take small steps to share God’s truth with the people who cross your path this week?

“True” Friends

Sharla with her True Friend Gail

“Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.”

Proverbs 16:13
Do you think kings are the only people who value truth?
Let me offer a paraphrase:
Women take pleasure in honest lips; they value a friend who speaks in truth.
People in power may find honest answers a rare commodity as people around them tend to speak what they think the powerful want to hear. However, we all value someone with whom we can speak openly and honestly. Someone who will gently tell us the truth even when it may hurt a bit. Someone who is a “true” friend.
“True” friends that don’t mind if we share honest feelings are a precious gift from God. Sisters in Christ who will give us honest feedback are worth more than diamonds. Friends that allow us to an authentic version of ourselves are truly cherished.  

Questions to ponder: Who are your “true” friends? How can you be a “true” friend–someone that allows openness and honesty?

“True” Friends

“Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.”
Proverbs 16:13
Do you think kings are the only people who value truth?
Let me offer a paraphrase:
Women take pleasure in honest lips; they value a friend who speaks in truth.
People in power may find honest answers a rare commodity as everyone around them simply speaks what they think the powerful want to hear. However, we all value someone with whom we can speak openly and honestly. Someone who will gently tell us the truth even when it may hurt a bit. Someone who is a “true” friend.
“True” friends that don’t mind if we share honest feelings are a precious gift from God. Sisters in Christ who will give us honest feedback are worth more than diamonds. Friends that allow us to an authentic version of ourselves are truly cherished.  

Questions to ponder: Who are your “true” friends? How can you be a “true” friend–someone that allows openness and honesty?

Flattery Part Two: Speak the Truth in Love

Boca - Mouth
photo by davi sommerfeld

” Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

“It is easier to flatter; it is harder to praise.”
Jean Paul Richter

We know we’re not supposed to flatter, but what do you do when someone asks you their opinion of their outfit, their work, their speech and your honest opinion is anything but positive? It seems easier to offer a general comment like, “It’s wonderful,” even if it is untrue. So what can we do in those situations?

Here are some suggestions for honesty in uncomfortable situations:

  • Praise something specific. If you think your friend’s outfit makes her look a giant eggplant, but she’s wearing a fantastic necklace, make that the focus of your comment.
  • Try offering a criticism between two compliments. Praise the layout and graphics of a co-worker’s presentation, when you need to advise her on a mistake on the content.
  • Speak the truth in love. Ask the person if you can be perfectly honest, then offer your critique in a gentle way.
  • Offer your opinion as opinion. Again, in a gentle way, you can tell the person your assessment, but tell them it is simply your opinion.
  • Examine your motives. We may be tempted to offer flattery to get something we want from the other person or we may want to be brutally honest to hurt the other person. Neither is a good option.
  • Remember honesty is the glue of relationships. Loving truth is the best way to bind your marriage and your friendships. 
Let’s avoid flattery and instead, “speak the truth in love.”

Flattery Part One

red mouth
photo by ComunicaTI

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Proverbs 26:28
Which of these is true?
  • Flattery = Adulation +Manipulation
  • Flattery = Praise – Sincerity
  • Flattery = Compliment + Strings Attaced

In fact, all of these are true. Yet, I sometimes still resort to flattery!

We are all tempted to stretch the truth at times. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. We want people to like us. We need a favor from the person we are speaking to so we lay on the praise a little thick.

There are many occasions when it is convenient to pull out the tube of Fuchsia Flattery lipstick, but in the long run that shade will only hurt others and ourselves.

According to Proverbs “flattery works ruin.” Here are three ways I can see that flattery hurts:

  1. Flattery exposes the selfishness of the flatterer. Remember flattery is a compliment with strings attached. When you are tempted to offer an insincere compliment, ask yourself why you are doing it.
  2. Flattery harms the “flatteree.” Our hearts may desire praise in any form, but our minds are like spam filters that spot insincerity. False compliments feel like a stab rather than a hug.
  3. Flattery undermines the relationship. Relationships must be built on truth. Without honesty friendships crumble. 

Tomorrow we will look at specific ways to avoid flattery and instead offer sincere compliments in sticky situations.