Posted in John

Redefining Success 

The friend who attends the Bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the Bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30

I am redefining success on the basketball court. It used to be all about winning or losing which meant leaving the game either excited, discouraged, frustrated, or depressed, depending on the final score and how I played. My new definition is that just getting exercise is a “win,” but it’s a difficult transition because I’ve labored under the old mindset for a long time. I have to remind myself each game of my new way of looking at it. “It doesn’t matter that I missed that shot or that we are losing by 10; I’m playing, sweating, and running – I need nothing else to enjoy the game.”

The text quoted above is John the Baptist’s response to disciples who came to him with the news that his ministry was decreasing while someone else’s was getting bigger. “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan…well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” What they were really saying was something like this: “Do something! We’ve got to get the crowds back here because we’ve always baptized more people than anyone else. Let’s get some posters up, let’s interview the man on the street and find out why so many  are going elsewhere. Why not have a party with free pizza?”

Americans love results. Bigger is always better. Work hard and if it’s not producing, work harder. Results rule. John had a different definition of success in life: intimacy with God. He informed his disciples that his joy was not in the ministry, so it really didn’t matter whether it was getting bigger or smaller. His joy was in hearing the Bridegroom’s voice and in being His friend.

To be a friend of God and to respond to Him with joyful obedience when He speaks is the greatest thing you and I can do. It’s not about production, it’s about the relationship. The Westminster Confession states: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Remember to enjoy God today and you already have the win.


Pastor at City Church in Madison, Wisconsin