The Success of the World is not Worth the Significance of Your Soul

Life moves at a feverish pace. The demands of work, of family, of health, of duty, of responsibility drown me in a sea of busyness, yet I keep on running because at the end of that road, maybe I’ll find success.

In these moments, the promises of the Bible seem to disappear. They don’t feel relevant in today’s fast-paced world. In these moments, I feel the temptation to turn God’s words upon Himself and profess, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

The prodigal spirit within me cries out–make a life for yourself. Try as I may, I find myself in the pigsty, feeding on the slop of self-indulgence.

If I am learning anything at all, I learning that success will never be a suitable substitute for significance.

A Longing For Significance

Too often, we use rankings and sales numbers to validate our work. There’s the mom who judges herself on how well-behaved her kids are or how clean her house is. There’s the businessman who counts his worth by reviewing his bottom-line. There’s the retiree who constantly checks his 401k to make sure it’s stable.

As an author, there’s a suspicious longing for affirmation, a desire to know that your efforts are not in vain. My heart begs the question, “Is anyone going to like what I’ve written?” Even when very gracious and positive reviews begin pouring in, I still wonder.


This comparison trap is dangerous and deadly because, once you’ve tasted honey, you long for it again. Pressure mounts to avoid the reality that your greatest successes may have passed– or maybe, you’re not successful at all.

So, we look to the experts for help:

“How to parent like a pro”

“How to become a better blogger and a best-selling author”

“How to become financially free in 18 months”

“How to grow a six-figure business”

Much of this advice is beneficial and needed, but I find that our motives are often the problem. We long to do these things to prove our own value, to show ourselves how significant we are. We’re willing to leverage and utilize every trick in the book and every tool in our belt to make it happen.

I return to the prodigal reference above, we long to make it for our own benefit.

And that’s when I intersect a Truth I cannot escape.


Learning From Luke

The Gospel of Luke was penned by a first century physician. He was thorough and very comprehensive, carefully investigating every detail that he witnessed as he accompanied the Apostle Paul during the growth of the early church. It is in the ninth chapter of this book where I see the words that point to the root of the problem. Jesus is speaking. These are the red words, the important words:

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (25)

Oh how I feel this slippery tension within every longing of my heart.

I find ways to be creative in order to justify my desires. Maybe if I’m clever or witty, it will have a way of hiding the motives.

Every time I come back to this passage, it says that same thing: In an effort to become successful, don’t forfeit your significance. Friends, although I write these words to myself, if you’re still reading, I suppose they may be true for you as well:

The success of the world is not worth the significance of your soul.

Be significant, today.


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17 Responses to The Success of the World is not Worth the Significance of Your Soul

  1. Janeen Kilgore December 6, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    This is one very important message as we begin to think about the new year and the plans for the 2015 hustle.

    • Matt Ham December 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm #


  2. Marci Smith December 6, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    I so needed to read this this morning. I am feeling quite insignificant and wondering what God wants me to do. I write a blog and I’m feeling stuck with it. What I mean by this is that I wonder if I’m doing any good by it. I wonder if I’m affecting anyone’s heart with God’s words?? Why, oh why do I feel that I need thousands of readers to make a difference. God tells me that if one person reads about His love that can have an eternal impact. My prodigal self says I want more. This post was a true blessing to my heart and I really appreciate your honesty and real love for Jesus. Thank you for loving Him more than you love yourself and sharing Him with all of us.

    • Matt Ham December 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      Marci, I wrote a post last year called “My Huge Mistake.” It talks about counting your followers and I used a story from King David’s life to illustrate it.

      Blessings to you as you obey and I will pray for His direction and peace for you.

  3. Misty Scott December 6, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Its so easy to get caught up in the stress of trying to be so much to so many. Or pulled in so many different directions; Parent, Wife, Friend, Employee, Volunteer, Coach…the list goes on & on…We just need to remember to keep Him in the front and our priority focus!

    • Matt Ham December 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm #


      We need to be one thing, to One.

  4. David Mike December 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    I just want to help people. I need to realize that only God can do this through me. Nothing I do on my own will work out the way He has in mind. I need to stay connected to Him.

    • Matt Ham December 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      Beautiful realization, David. He directs our steps, always.

  5. Rick Theule December 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    I understand the struggle. Thanks for sharing and putting words to it.

    • Matt Ham December 9, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

      Rick, I feel this struggle so deeply and I think many do, but often ignore it. Thanks for being a part of the minority.

  6. Tom Morris December 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    So well said, Matt. We all want to make a difference. We want to feel that we’re of value. And deep down, we may even ache to feel like we’re of maximal value, peak value, even infinite value. But of course, no finite accomplishment will ever give us that. Until we realize deep in our bones that what we’re chasing in this way can never be caught, we’re like Sisyphus, pushing that rock up the hill endlessly. We have to come to understand instead that only the right relationship to the infinite Source of value will give us that sense of what we need. Great post.

    • Matt Ham December 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

      “No finite accomplishment can give us infinite value” – who should I attribute that too? Great words.

      • Tom Morris December 10, 2014 at 10:52 am #

        Humility forbids I answer! Ha! Thanks!

  7. Tony Paluš - The Inspired Life December 7, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    Very interesting article, Matt! Thank you!

    • Matt Ham December 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

      I hope that in some way interesting implies helpful, at least thought provoking. Thanks for stopping by Tony.

  8. Jon Stolpe December 7, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Great thoughts, Matt. I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.

    • Matt Ham December 9, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      Such a key passage we cannot forget. Thanks Jon!