I have been watching Food Network for a long time, around 13 years.  One of my favorite shows that I watch on a constant basis is Chopped.  Now for those who have no idea what chopped is it is a competition where 4 great chefs come to compete who is the best.  But here is the twist: they have 3 rounds, one person getting eliminated or “Chopped” each round.  And you get a different basket filled with 4 off the wall ingredients that you have to make a cohesive one dish meal.  Sounds simple right?  It is not especially when there are ingredients like mac and cheese in a box, or fruit that smells nasty, or a fish you never even knew existed. Yes they can have things like broccoli rabe, champagne or other normal ingredients but it is mainly an even playing field no matter how many years of experience you have. And of course there is a timer, 20 minutes for the first course, 30 minutes for the entree round and dessert round.

For years I have been watching this show.  I love it, it inspires me to be a better cook, to think outside the box and try things I would never have thought of.  But the thing that always bothers me is when MOST contestants come on and say I am doing this competition for validation, to prove all my years of hard work has payed off. Or I am doing this to make my supportive parents proud, or to prove that I am not the deadbeat son or daughter they once called me. Wow that is a lot of pressure, especially for a competition that doesn’t so much show case your signature dishes but puts you to the test for creativity.

I did sports for nine years! NINE YEAR.  Volleyball was my sport of choice.  And if I had to base all my hours of practice and talent into one game I don’t know if it would truly prove that I was as good as I was.  You can have your off days, you can have your off games.  One day of competition shouldn’t prove what kind of athlete you are.

Yet this validation thing does not just permeates food or sports competitions.  It is in every aspect of our lives as medalWe want validation on the job, at home, in our relationships, ministries.  We want to have something that proves or says “You are doing a good job.” or “You are the best of the best”  “Look at all those hours you put in and they paid off”  We, as people, want high numbers, and awards to show that we have done is worth it all.

Yet that is not always God’s ways.  I had to learn that the hard way and I am still learning it in different areas of my life.  When Joel and I stared a non-profit in California we thought things would start progressing at a quick pass. We thought food companies would say yes to donating their non-sellable products. We thought business would start giving to us left and right. We thought donations would just come flooding in.  Yet for a year and half that is not what happened.  We received no’s from 64 grocery stores in 3 cites, EVERY GROCERY STORE SAID NO to donating to us.  We had doors slam in our faces right and left.  We felt at a dead end.  I kept going to God about it and he would encourage me to keep going. This is what He had called me to, don’t give in and don’t give up.

I went to God one day asking if He would be more pleased with us if we had many businesses giving to us, a successful ministry, and money coming in from different donors. God let me know, “I am pleased with you because you have been obedient to me. You need to be joyful in that.”

God was letting me know that my obedience was good and that I should be content in knowing that I was obedient and not be dependent on the results. I felt like our ministry was not successful and it was causing me to feel discouraged and depressed. I wanted validation for  all the hard work Joel and I had been doing. But by following God’s directions I was pleasing Him. Even though it looked like we were not successful, our obedience is what God desired. It didn’t matter if we were being rejected daily or that we were not getting the donations in that we wanted or that we weren’t ministering to all the people that we had dreamed to help. Our joy needed to be in being obedient to God.

The only validation you ever need is from God.  If God is pleased it doesn’t matter how many rewards you have on your wall, how many competitions you have won, how many raises you get, how many people are following you on facebook, instagram, blogs, youtube, and more. God is not pleased by how successful we are in the worlds eyes but by our obedience to Him. There is a difference between godly success and man’s success. In spite of all the rejections and heartaches God was still pleased with Joel and I.

Now just for the record, God can bring about success that is approved of by the world. After five years in that city, we had several businesses donating to us and had received 1.3 million dollars in food, clothes, and supplies in one year. Having an unsuccessful ministry doesn’t mean that the Lord is not pleased with you. On the other hand, just because you may have a successful ministry in the world’s eyes does not mean that God approves of what you are doing.

At the end of the day, if you are being obedient to what God told you to do then you are successful. Then you need to have comfort knowing that the only validation that is important is from God himself.  It is funny I have watched dozens and dozens of Chopped episodes and I can only remember one person that won the competition. I cannot tell you names of any of the winners besides one.  Even when I have seen an episode of Chopped I can’t tell you who won in the end.  I can guess but even then I have been wrong. Why is that, because at the end of the day no one is going to remember who won, or what you did or said.  Only what you do for the Lord will last forever.

Solomon put it well :“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

It really is all meaningless nothing you do outside of God will last forever.  Your hard work will be given to someone else who may or may not be successful with it.  Your work and awards and successes will be forgotten.  All your validations you strived for is a chasing of the wind.  YET YET if you are obedient to God you have been successful.  Yet the most important words you could ever hear is from God saying “Well done good and faithful servant.” Those are the words of validation that you want to hear at the end of your life.  God will reward you. Stop looking to rewards that will not last.  Stop looking to the rewards in this lifetime and look to see how to please God and receive eternal rewards.

Awwww that is it.  We were made for validation but the wrong kind of validation will not last and be forgotten.

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. read more.
If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
– 1 Corinthians 3:11-14

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
-Matthew 5:11-12

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
-Revelation 22:12

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
-1 Peter 5:4

And then the greatest gift or reward of all
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
– Romans 6:23

Remember if God is for you then who can be against you. If God is pleased with you then nothing else matters.  Look for your validation in the right place.  Look for a reward from God and God alone.  He will encourage you, reward you, and help you.  He will even send others to encourage you. You just have to focus on the One that truly matters and that is God himself! He is our great reward!


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