June 11, 2023

The Trap of Striving to Succeed

Written by Shana Schutte

If we are burned out, frustrated, and disappointed, perhaps we aren’t working for Him, but we are expecting Him to work for us.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 11, 2023

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Years ago, I became extremely driven to succeed. God had placed a dream in my heart to write and speak for Him in ministry, and I was working hard to achieve that dream. I had an idea of how my dream should unfold and how fast I wanted it to happen. What I didn’t know is that in driving after my dream I was sacrificing intimacy with Christ.

Results became part of my identity rather than relationship with Jesus. As a result, I was often stressed, frustrated, and dissatisfied when things weren’t happening how I wanted, when I wanted. Additionally, because it was all about my agenda, I also no longer found satisfaction in the little blessings God was giving me every day. I became blinded in so many ways to God’s goodness and I spent many days wrestling with anger.

When I look back on these years, I see how my expectations and fears robbed me of joy. I thought my desires were good. After all, I just wanted to serve Christ. That’s good, right? Yes, it’s good, but the problem was that I wasn’t submitted to Jesus. I called Him “Lord,” but I wasn’t acting like He was Lord. I was trying to be my own god. No wonder my spirit was exhausted, and I was physically and emotionally tired.  

One morning, after a long season of wrestling and striving, I woke, and I was at rest. I knew I had finally given in—and I was ready to let God have His way. I was ready to stop trying to control my life to get certain outcomes. “Yes, Lord,” I said. “Now it’s just you and me again.” The idol of success had packed up and moved on and the idol of valuing what I could achieve more than loving Jesus was gone too. I sighed in relief. I had finally come back home to true intimacy with my True Love. He had restored me to a place of loving Him most like I had in the past. Oh! How I had missed him!

Since then, I have been experiencing increasing joy and peace over the years. If God wants to prosper me, that’s His business. My business is to trust Him every day, do the work He has placed in front of me, let Him be God, and keep in step with the Spirit. This will lead to peace, rather than striving. Now, I enjoy every day just walking with him and loving the people around me in little ways. It is very, very satisfying. My heart is so full. My expectations no longer blind me.

The trap of striving to succeed can happen to believers and non-believers alike—and it’s so easy to fall into. After all, the world is always yelling, “Do more! Be more! If you don’t make it happen, no one will!”

Does God call us to work for Him? Absolutely. We have all been given work here to do on planet earth. But life in the Spirit is rest and peace. If we are burned out, frustrated, and disappointed, perhaps we aren’t working for Him, but we are expecting Him to work for us. To keep in step with the Spirit and rest in the Lordship of Christ means doing our work but leaving the results to Him. This will stave off disappointment and usher in trust, peace, and rest. Hallelujah! 

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).


Lord, help me to work for you but leave the results to you. I trust you with my life, Jesus. Amen.


Are you striving for a particular outcome and so you are frustrated, angry, and disappointed? Talk with Jesus about how you feel today and lay down your agenda in exchange for His peace.

Related Reading

Galatians 6:8; John 14:27; Romans 14:17

Worship Resource

Hillsong Worship: Let the Peace of God Reign


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