Obedience Over Hustle: The Surrender of the Striving Heart

Obedience Over Hustle: The Surrender of the Striving Heart

by Malinda Fuller


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The world promises recognition and promotion if we "hustle harder," but at what cost?

Join the counter-cultural movement of choosing surrender over striving.

Throughout scripture, we encounter individuals who had to face the hard reality that their dreams and time lines weren't God's best plan. By exploring these biblical narratives alongside her own personal stories of radical obedience, author Malinda Fuller encourages readers to respond to the questions God asks each of us: "Will you trust Me? . . . Will you do what I'm asking you to do?” 

Fuller's challenge to all of us is to yield to God's voiceno matter where He leads or what He asks, whether it's complicated or straightforward, accepted by others or challenging to understand, and regardless of how it makes us feel (even if it appears foolish). May we have the courage to surrender to His plan and His timingto choose obedience over hustle.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643520759
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/01/2019
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 800,907
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt


This Thing Called Hustle

Hustle. It is impossible to ignore this idea.

Everyone has seen the word splashed across the front of a book jacket or coffee mug. It has made its mark on Instagram feeds. It isn't just a catchy phrase for the creatives camped out at the local brewhouse, nor is it reserved for business owners and those chasing down the next sale while sipping espresso. Moms of toddlers unite behind their gold-printed T-shirts proclaiming to the world that the "mommy hustle" is real. Christians are "prayin' and slayin'" — or eating, praying, and hustling, depending on the day.

When I first heard the word hustle, I was confused. I wondered why the bloggers I knew were using this term. I remember thinking, What do you mean you're hustlin'? It sounded bizarre. But then the hype took over and everyone started throwing the word around. All of a sudden, my social media feed brimmed with individuals pridefully announcing their "hustle" like they'd unlocked the secret code for doing super-cool things and achieving goals. They were the same women who'd always had the side business or creative hobby, the same writers, still working extra hard to be noticed, validated, and profitable. But now they had permission to race toward their goals — hustle wasn't just a verb; it had become a badge of honor to wear proudly. I know I used the word a few times, probably accented by a fist-bump emoji because, well, that's what you have to do to get people to notice your work. Or so I thought. It feels quite silly to admit that now.

In the months following the conference in Indiana, I found myself surrounded by the hustle noise. Everywhere I looked, I felt bombarded by the message that unless I was taking this Instagram class, I would never grow my social media platform; unless I was jumping on that writing retreat or conference, my dreams would never become a reality. Friends were taking advantage of opportunities for aspiring business owners, and the voice of hustle made all of it look so alluring.

As I started to see where I was giving in to the hustle, God poised more questions: "If it's for My glory, why are you trying to do it your way, Malinda?" "If it doesn't happen in your time frame, will you be less effective, less happy, less fulfilled?" "What if My way looks different from how you see ithaven't My ways always been better?"

Over a period of months, every book I picked up, every message I listened to, every article I read seemed to have the same undertones: the idea that if our hearts are striving after something other than God's goal for us, He won't bless our efforts. Even if we were to experience success through such means, it would come at a cost. This became a deafening conversation on repeat, and it was inescapable. Suddenly, the dialogue with my husband, my best friends, and random social media friends became, "What's up with the hustle?"

The more I heard and saw the hustle being promoted, the more curious I became: "Where did this notion come from?" I started to ask. "Why are we celebrating the backbreaking workaholism that it seems to advocate?" I decided to do some research.

The word hustle dates back to the mid-1600s to 1700s. The Dutch were the first to use it, and the translation meant "to shake." I remember reading those first lines from the dictionary and thinking, How did we get from "to shake" to the modern definition used to describe hard work? Digging a little deeper, I unearthed a much longer list of definitions that provided insight into the word's evolution.

I noticed most of the historical uses of hustle were derogatory. It wasn't a title to bestow on your closest friend or loved one. Hustler was used to brand lowly characters, not to esteem hardworking individuals.

Listed below are some of the most common definitions I found for the word hustle:

• to push roughly

• to obtain by forceful action or persuasion

• to coerce or pressure someone into a choice

• to sell aggressively

• to swindle or cheat

Of all the interpretations for this six-letter word, the modern version, "working hard, usually towards the common goal of creating an income," is the most widely used today, yet it is less commonly found in traditional dictionaries. The meaning of the word has morphed over the years from "to shake," to "to obtain by force," and eventually to "to put a lot of effort into one's work." Interestingly, this last definition isn't the same "hustle" message that our grandparents and great-grandparents knew. Those who lived through the war eras knew that hustle meant to provide for one's family, but today the connotation is much more explicit.

* * *

Hustle invigorates me and fuels my fire to "GO."

• Fortune favors the brave.

• Use as much energy as you can to get to the finish.

• Work hard to hit a goal. [Hustle] makes me feel excited for what's to come.

• Hustle equals drive. Those who hustle are entrepreneurs. They are "doers" and get stuff done. They are like Nehemiah ... who saw and filled the need.

• [Hustle is] giving everything I have into one concentrated thing.

These were some of the responses I received when I asked my Facebook community, "What feelings does the word 'hustle' stir up?"

If you just read these thoughts and felt your heart beating wildly in excitement, then you're probably one of those who picked up this book because of your love for the hustle. You send out virtual fist bumps to your friends who are growing their sales teams and crushing goals in their businesses, and you wake up eager to tackle your to-dos for the day and check off items from your goals list. This six-letter word gets your blood pumping. Each time you say it, your adrenaline surges like a wave cresting just off the beach. More than likely you are a creative, an entrepreneur, a builder of things or teams or people. Perhaps you love sales and networking, or maybe you're a dreamer with a five-year plan that you keep posted on your bathroom mirror. You are a three, eight, or one on the Enneagram personality model, and you enjoy setting audacious goals and then surprising everyone when you crush them early.

If you're a Christian and a lover of the hustle, then you probably know where to find verses that sound like this: "I worked hard at building the wall of Jerusalem. All my men gathered there to work on the wall." These lines from the book of Nehemiah are like balm to your soul when you find yourself being told to "slow down" by friends and family. They're the permission you need to continue pushing forward at the breakneck speed you've been racing. As a planner and overachiever, you tend to be hypercritical of yourself and typically see your efforts as never quite good enough — which just pushes you even harder. You always have a "word for the year," live by your day planner, and struggle to embrace the idea of "rest."

Even if you're not in the business world, this hustle hunger has bled over into other aspects of your life. You demand perfection from others — your spouse, family members, friends, children, and coworkers. You probably expect everyone to have the same drive and passion as you and become easily frustrated when others have no ambition to set goals for their personal development. If you see yourself in these characterizations, rest assured, you're in good company. In fact, these descriptors are fairly accurate of my own personality and tendencies. You are not weird, crazy, or alone if you are wired this way.

This book was not written to guilt or to shame you. Its pages are not meant to overwhelm or condemn but to offer freedom — a pass to jump into the deep end of the pool called grace. The message here is not that working hard, having goals, and even being wildly successful are bad things. I want to make one thing very clear: I am not against small businesses, women pursuing their dreams, or mothers who work from home — I am one of those hardworking women myself. I applaud those who are chasing after their dreams — if those dreams are God-given and, even more important, God- authorized. (In chapter 17 we'll discuss the idea that sometimes our goals are from God but He hasn't approved the timing.)

Rather than condemning those with lofty ambitions, those defying the odds with their achievements, I'm suggesting that our lives have become overrun by an incessant striving for something more. The hustling heart reaches its fingers deep, infiltrating far beyond just our livelihood. Its chant chokes out the conversation of contentment and gratitude until our "wants" masquerade as "needs." I'm not here to advocate slothful behavior and apathetic living; I'm here with one question: Is what you're hustling after the thing that God has asked you to do?

In our me-centered world where we believe we can become anything we set our minds to and attain anything we feel we deserve, it is no longer enough to just put a lot of effort into our work — we have to hustle after it. "It" being the variable. For some, hustling after "it" means earning a paycheck or achieving a goal. Others are seeking to attain more of something: clients, power, success, influence, fame.

"A lot of effort" simply isn't enough anymore. We're expected to be competitive, focused, and driven — every day, all day. We aren't happy to just "work smarter"; we have to be both smart and relentless in the pursuit of our goals. We need to complete our work faster, and with better results, than everyone else. It's as though our entire lives are a giant game of Monopoly where we're creating side deals and one-upping everyone in our circle, continually positioning ourselves for recognition, validation, and success.

For some of you reading, maybe the hustle looks more like "keeping up" with those in your neighborhood, at the gym, online, or at church. Maybe you've experienced the suffocating feeling of the need to prepare all-organic homemade meals, return to your prepregnancy weight at six weeks postpartum, keep your home sparkling clean (despite having two toddlers at home), read ten books a month, and slay your business goals a week before the end of each month. Does this sound familiar?

For new college graduates, the hustle might look like chasing after a dream job that can help you pay back your mountain of debt. But rather than working hard toward that goal, you may find yourself in the perennial trap of the hustle: bouncing from one position to the next trying to find the "right environment," struggling to commit to the nine-to-five, eating and drinking your paycheck away, and splurging on impressive items and trips. Because that's what you're supposed to do — according to social media.

To those who have graduated kids and now find themselves in the next season of life, the hustle song sounds different yet. You may not care in the slightest about posting on Instagram, chasing sales, or climbing a ladder of success, but that doesn't mean your heart doesn't strive. Maybe it's for your ministry, book, church, or business to do well. Maybe it's to keep up with your friend's house, car, body, or luxury vacations. You may not be someone who struggles with listening to God when it comes to writing a check, but you know He's been telling you for years to befriend a neighbor, foster some children, mentor a young businesswoman, host a foreign exchange student, start a Bible study, or lead a women's group at church — and you've continued to find other things to do so that you're "too busy" to follow through on what He's asking.

The hustle looks a little different for each of us, but its nature of striving is always the same. Hustling is chasing after a goal at any cost. It's the pushing that comes from a heart focused on what others have and what others are doing, rather than choosing contentment and listening for the voice of God. We've traded hearing God's simple "Well done" in our current season (our current budget, our current circumstance) for gaining the applause of the masses.

* * *

The hustling heart drives us — from making sure our skin, travel schedules, and homes measure up to the social media noise. We tally how successful our side business is right out of the gate, strive to calculate the reach of our influence, and work to prove the worthiness of our cause — right alongside our closest friends and allies. We question God's timing, His ways, His failure to move on our behalf, even while at the same time crying out, "Your way, Lord!"

What is this obsession with a word once rarely used — hustle? Why have we elevated this concept, carrying it around like a banner, chanting it for everyone to hear? Are we seeking validation for our achievements or our efforts? Who is our audience — and to what end are we performing? These are just a few of the questions we're going to tackle over the next several chapters. Are you ready? Let's go!


Suffocating under the Hustle

I'm pretty sure in the Garden of Eden the serpent had "hustle" on his deceptive lips. If Eve had [decided] to be still and reflect and pause over the moment, perhaps she may have chosen differently. Hustle creates a false urgency to act and move based on deception of who we are and what we need, yet hustle is seen as a "good thing" in our culture of women. If we don't hustle, then we won't get what is ours or what we "deserve." So we are told to hustle and move quick ... and then feel guilty when we rest or aren't pushing ourselves. It's a crazy thing, that thing called hustle.

When I began to share with friends and other writers about how the hustle had affected me on a personal level, I was surprised by their responses. The general feeling was that of suffocation. I had no idea how many people had been experiencing similar angst over this word. The epigraph above is from an online friend who responded to my questions about how the word made her feel. Crowdsourcing brought forth emotional responses from people who were burnt out and looking to mend what they had inadvertently broken as a result of their hustling. Some answers were simple, others strong — some even combative. As I did more research and probed further, I discovered that the stress of the hustle is a widespread concern. Here's a sampling of the comments I received regarding the implications of the word hustle:

It has very negative connotations to me. I see it used constantly, and it's often with people/brands that are prioritizing their business goals above all else; [who] see working fifty-five-hour weeks as a sign of being passionate and earning their success.

[When I hear the word hustle] I feel stressed immediately.

It gives me heart palpitations.

For me, it's a dangerous word. It tempts me to sin and fool myself into thinking I can function out of my own strength.

From all over the country and across oceans, individuals were joining the conversation. They were skeptical of the message that there is only one way to become successful (and questioning the markers used to measure "success"), and they were tired of feeling compelled to claw themselves into the spotlight, following the advice of "industry leaders," and grow a big platform. Outside of the creative circles I was involved in, I heard mothers respond to the idea of "trying to do it all," and shop owners admit that despite all they'd poured into their businesses, they were choosing to shut them down because they had become something that God didn't want them to focus on anymore. The idea of "success" was confusing to women who were stay-at-home mothers intent on loving their families well, yet drowning beneath the message "God has more for you than just being a mom."

As the hustle noise continued to grow louder all around me, so did God's whisper to my heart: "Is that what I've called you to?" Just as it had in the hotel ballroom, His voice came softly, gently, with grace. As I pondered whether the chase was worth it, other messages surfaced: "Stay humble. Be still. Rest. Build people, not things. Trust Me. Seek first My kingdom, not your empire."

That last one was a zinger, not because I had any lofty goals — my aim wasn't to reach superstar status as a writer — but because I did feel that God had gifted me with the ability to string together words, and I wanted the opportunity to share them. I wasn't seeking a six-figure income, but my heart did want a sphere of influence. I wanted to teach the Bible to women and share messages of hope and truth with crowds. It didn't seem like a selfish goal, but eventually I realized I also longed for the affirmation those opportunities provided.


Excerpted from "Obedience over Hustle"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Malinda Fuller.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Closed Doors and Open Hands,
Part One: Confronting the Hustle,
Chapter 1: This Thing Called Hustle,
Chapter 2: Suffocating under the Hustle,
Chapter 3: But Didn't God Institute Hard Work?,
Chapter 4: The Better Thing,
Chapter 5: Artificial Significance,
Chapter 6: The Mommy Hustle,
Chapter 7: Close to Jesus Yet Still Hustling,
Chapter 8: The Church Hustle,
Chapter 9: Eve's FOMO (Fear of Missing Out),
Part One: Reflection and Small Group Questions,
Part Two: Choosing Obedience,
Chapter 10: What Happened to Obedience?,
Chapter 11: Jesus: Obedience in the Flesh,
Chapter 12: Complete Obedience,
Chapter 13: Obedient When the Dream Isn't Yours ...,
Chapter 14: Attitude Is Everything,
Chapter 15: Obedience Equals Maturity,
Chapter 16: Obedience When the Path Is Unclear,
Chapter 17: Obedience: Not Just Direction but Pace,
Chapter 18: Exchanging Fear for Obedience,
Chapter 19: Courageous Obedience,
Chapter 20: Fruitful Obedience,
Part Two: Reflection and Small Group Questions,
Conclusion: Continued Obedience,
Obedience over Hustle Manifesto,


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