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Session 2:

Meaningful Success

Next Level | Message Series

“What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Matthew 16:26


One of the things that we in the South Bay are known for is our drive for success. We want to have successful careers, we want our kids to be successful in school, and we want to have the best house, the best vacations—the best life. Sadly, many people in the South Bay can also be defined by looming dissatisfaction, tenuous work that leaves them close to a financial cliff, and relationships that never go beyond surface level. Why does a relentless focus on success often leave people more empty and lost?

The answer has to do with our standard definition of success. When success is defined by living a certain comfortable or carefree lifestyle, or hitting a certain level of financial security, or outdoing a cultural image of happiness, the chances of failure are substantial and disconcerting. Thankfully, Jesus offers us another view of success—one rooted in connection with God, where the value of material possessions fades and vibrant relationships thrive. We’re going to explore that perspective on success together today.


Share Your Story

Start the conversation by using these suggested questions:

Think back: What would you have said was your biggest accomplishment or success right after you finished high school? How does that success rate nowadays?

Who is your perfect example of a successful person? What makes them seem to have it all?

Have you known any successful people who have suddenly failed or fallen from grace? How did that make you feel about your own chances at success?

Watch the Video

Hear God’s Story

In Matthew 16, Jesus has just started to spell out clearly his plan to sacrifice his own life in order to make it possible for people to be reconnected with God. Jesus’ highest value is people and their spiritual, eternal relationship to God. But when one of his top disciples, Peter, protests, Jesus stuns the disciples with an impassioned explanation of what it means to find real success and value.

Read Matthew 16:24–26.

  • Jesus implores his disciples to “give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” This was before Jesus had been crucified, so what do you think the disciples would have thought about this command? Have you ever been challenged to give up a certain aspect of your life’s plan? If Jesus were to look at your pursuit of success, are there any aspects that he would want you to give up?

  • Jesus warns that trying to hang on to our lives will lead to us losing them. What aspects of your life do you feel you have the tightest grip on? What are the ways that these areas could keep you from pursuing true value?

  • Instead of holding onto our lives, Jesus says to “give up your life for my sake.” What does he mean by that? Knowing that Jesus wants us to live full lives, why would he, in this passage, encourage us to give up our lives?

  • Jesus ends with the beautiful rhetorical question: “Is anything worth more than your soul?” Looking at your own life, are there elements of work or your pursuit of success that have come in the way of your spirit and relationships?

Create a New Story

In this section, let’s talk about how we’ll apply what we’ve learned from God through the Bible passage. We’ll decide on a few practical steps we can take this week to live out God’s truth.

  • What areas of your life do you recognize as being spiritually unhealthy, but have been unwilling or unable to change up to this point? How can our group pray for you and encourage you in these areas?

  • Is there an area of material temptation (bigger house, higher salary, more of a collection) that has the unintended effect of teaching your children, coworkers or friends the wrong lesson about what’s really important? How could you prioritize a change in that area?

  • Is there a simple change you could make to reorient your work or priorities closer to God’s sense of true value? What would be the benefit of a “win” in a small area?

  • What’s one way you can “invest” in something of spiritual or relational value this week?

Make sure to close your meeting in prayer, thanking God for how highly he values us. Thank him, too, for his grace and strength as we work to reorient our lives around what really matters.

— For Parents —

It’s easy to compartmentalize our own faith from that of our children. Oftentimes the only crossover is when we ask, “What did you learn today?” when picking them up from school.

Instead of keeping your faith separate from your children, one of the best opportunities you have to model faith is to intentionally share about what God is teaching you. In this section, you will find a simple activity to create space to talk about the Sunday messages with your children. Your kids can understand more about what a relationship with God looks like and more about who God is to you.


Daily Devotions

Day 1
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22–23)
Which one of these characteristics would most enrich your life if you pursued it?
Day 2
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)
We train our bodies and we train for our jobs, but what are some ways that you could start training yourself to better connect with God?
Day 3
It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35b)
Is there something you can give this week, in order to experience the richness of God’s blessing?
Day 4
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
Does your pursuit of success ever come at a cost to people around you?
Day 5
Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. (Hebrews 13:5)
How do your finances create a sense of security/insecurity for you? What would it be like to truly trust God to care for you?
Day 6
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8)
The most important thing in our lives—our salvation—came without us earning it. How does our pursuit of success reflect that gift?

Ready for the Next Session?