It sounds straightforward—like a gold-lettered mantra that you would find on t-shirts, coffee mugs, or hanging behind a desk. It’s catchy and trendy. With eager fingers we double tap and offer our virtual applause, but the truth is that this trio of words is more disruption than inspiration.

Most people, if we are honest, like the hustle mode. Our workaholism is validated by accolades as we push ourselves to grow bigger, faster, and be more productive. We rationalize our efforts with our “sense of purpose” even if we fail to see that our pursuit is after the wrong things, or leading us in the wrong direction.

The hustle itself isn’t bad, at least in the modern day context that we use it. Throughout His word, God commands us to be diligent, rise early, and work while the sun is up. While we whined over weekend chores as children, our parents droned on about how a strong work ethic is a noble character trait, and somehow it stuck. Today, we have subscribed to the positive self-talk that promises we can “be” and “do” anything we put our mind to. We need to be careful, however, that we aren’t pushing our own goals, our own ways, and our timing instead of listening and waiting for God. This is the challenge.

We agree that a deafening voice doesn’t equate an important message, but we refuse to accept that our success isn’t defined by hearts and statistics. To confess that we’re stretching ourselves too thin—exhausting ourselves physically, emotionally and financially, that would be a sign of weakness, and God’s people are anything but.

We cringe at the admission that God tends to mess up our plans. If He whispers, “Wait a minute, I don’t want you to go that way anymore,” we panic. We throw out a “Gideon fleece” and ask God for a sign that what we heard is what He really meant. (The fleece tactic that Gideon used—was due to a lack of faith, just so we are all clear.) The most traumatic moment in our career is when God asks us to lay something on the altar for a season, or worse—indefinitely. Enraged, and overcome with grief, we watch as what we worked so hard for, all of our dreams and efforts, is engulfed in flames. We forget that God once stood there—sacrificing something great, for something better. We fail to understand that what is yet to come is beyond our seemingly-perfect plan which was concocted late one night after hearing a TED talk.

There is an often-quoted story from the book of Judges that children would watch unfold on the flannel board in Sunday school. It’s the story of Gideon, going to battle with torches and trumpets.

The details, that are often glossed over, describe the dramatic way God reduced Gideon’s army before they faced the enemy. God asked Gideon to obey several specific orders before He gave them a victory. God wasn’t interested in whether Gideon could win the fight; God wanted his obedience.

Gideon’s troops decreased from 32,000 to 300. God didn’t want Gideon and his men to become prideful and boast in their own strength; He wanted to be their Rescuer. God wanted them to show them what could happen if they would trust Him. When Gideon set out in the middle of the night toward the enemy, only 1/10th of the original company went with him.

Apply this to today’s culture and it looks like this: on the eve of the biggest day of our career, God asks us to cut our social media following—from 32,000 followers to 300.

Imagine preparing to launch a new business or product, would you confidently hit delete on your Instagram account if God had asked you to? If you were slotted as the keynote speaker at a conference, and in the stillness of your room before you went to sleep, God prompts you to get rid of 90% of your social support, would you do it? Would you obey in the midst of such a risk? Would you push that voice away and go about your business as usual, or would you lean in to the whisper and let God do His thing?

That’s what obedience over hustle looks like. It’s exchanging the world’s shouting for God’s whisper. It’s choosing what may appear foolish in order to say yes to God’s wisdom. It’s building an ark in place that has never seen rain. It’s marching toward the army with the worship team leading the way rather than the warriors, or circling the walls of the city, not ramming the gates. It’s washing in the Jordan, praying over five loaves of bread and two fish, or walking into a tomb and saying, “Dead man, come forth!” It directs us to the feet of Jesus instead of busying ourselves with people pleasing, and trying to earn grace. It’s faithfully putting our hand to the tasks before us in place of clawing our way into the spotlight. It’s saying yes to the mundane moments, regardless of who will see or know. It is believing that God’s vision is so much greater than our own and that He has a plan for whatever gifts and abilities that He has purposefully placed inside of us.

It means walking with integrity, even when there is a quicker, or easier way. It’s making a big deal of out His name, not hustling so much that people recognize our own. It requires that we hold our plans loosely and acknowledge that His time is the right time. It’s getting after the goals and direction He gives us, choosing His way, not the worlds. Are you ready to choose obedience over hustle?
Have you been ignoring what God is asking of you because you’re prioritizing the hustle? Stop and listen. What is He asking you to do or change in this season?

Malinda Fuller

Malinda is a bold communicator with a passion for seeing people grow as disciples of Jesus. She and her husband, Alex, have been married for more than 14 years and she is a proud homeschooling mom to two spirited girls. Malinda’s first traditionally published book, Obedience Over Hustle, releases in the fall of 2019. You can connect with Malinda through her website or on Instagram.

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