There is an interesting chapter—actually three that cover the same account—in the Scriptures. It is the account of Jesus calling the Twelve and then sending them out to share the Kingdom message. In all three accounts (Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9), the Gospel writers share the success of the Twelve. They also share the instructions that Jesus gave prior to their success, and how they were to handle the success that was coming.
1. Jesus sent them out two by two (Mark 6:7). Rarely, do we succeed on our own. There is usually a team of people of who have supported us, encouraged us, gone with us, on the journey to our success. We need to recognize those who are a part of our success and not be filled with the false pride of self-made success. Even if we were the ones who made the shot, closed the deal or opened the final door—others were there along the process who made those moments possible.
2. Jesus gave them power (Mark 6:7). Ultimately, any success we have is from the hand of the Father and the Son (James 1:17). We must recognize this fact and give God the glory for our successes (1 Corinthians 10: 31).
3. He commanded them to take nothing but a staff (Mark 6:8). We tend to overcomplicate our journey. We over-pack for an overnight trip; we overstock office supplies; we buy every gadget; we try every novelty. For this mission to work, they were to take the essentials. They were to stay focused on their purpose and not be weighed down with distractions.
4. Jesus told them to enter a house and stay there. There was no jumping ship; there was no house-hopping; they weren’t to try to get bigger and better, or rub shoulders with the best and wealthiest. In another passage, it explains they were to look for a “worthy house” (Matthew 10: 11). In this explanation, it wasn’t reaching the top as fast as possible, it was starting where they were welcomed and received, and working from that house to reach the city. In our journeys of success, we don’t need to rise so suddenly to the top that we crest the wave and crash out like an inexperienced surfer. Instead, we start where we are and work from there. So many athletes are careful to thank their parents as they reach the professional level because they understand the sacrifices their parents have made—the humble beginnings, the safe home, the place where they were accepted—long before their own faces began to be seen on television and their names were signed on contracts. We work with the people who welcome us, who believe in us, and we do not offend them by forgetting them.
5. Jesus goes on and tells them how to handle rejection as well. Part of success is that there will be naysayers and discouragers. There will be those who will not believe that God is doing great things in and through us. Jesus tells the Twelve to “shake the dust off their feet,” (Matthew 10:14). This is a symbolic gesture of not internalizing their rejection. Let their negativity and rejection stay on their streets, not in our hearts. We must stay focused on the next step of our purpose as we move forward with the mission God has given us. We cannot allow someone else’s rejection to make us bitter—we keep moving forward.
6. The disciples come back and tell Jesus all that happened (Luke 9:10). After their success, they spent time privately Jesus, telling Him all that had happened. We are wise to do the same. Talking to the God of the universe about our successes helps us to keep them in proper perspective. The Twelve did not get puffed up, they sat at the feet of Jesus. They didn’t tell everyone about their success, they told the Messiah that they had obeyed, and He had blessed. They turn around in the next few verses and witness Him feed five thousand souls. Jesus knows what it takes to keep us focused, successful and humble.
Our success is much like the Twelve’s. We are rarely successful on our own, our power comes from Him, we need to stay focused, we do best when we recognize those who have welcomed us, we are to shake off rejection, and we are to bring our successes to the feet of Jesus. A short account, written in three of the Gospels, yet it gives us the keys of dealing with our victories and making sure we know how to handle successes the way God intended.
Dear Abba, thank You for showing us how to handle success. May we give You all the glory for the power and purpose, and may we recognize those You have sent with us, and those who have welcomed us, on our journey. Help us to be focused and to shake off rejection so it does not embitter us. Help us to sit at Your feet and tell You about the great things You have allowed us to do. Help us remember through it all that You are the One who loves us and gives us all good things! In Jesus’ name, Amen.