Hard Work vs Hustle

3 Signs You’ve Crossed the Line


Have you heard the buzz-word “hustle” floating around lately? It’s the idea that working tirelessly toward your goals will get you where you want to be. Doing more and pushing harder are hallmarks of success. Often this thinking links your sense of value and identity with what you can produce and achieve.


As Christians, we may not explicitly buy into this way of thinking, but a “hustle” mentality is sneaky and can infiltrate our thoughts in more nuanced ways. Working hard, after all, is a good thing. So what’s the difference between hard work and hustle? Between stewardship and striving? No one would achieve anything if they didn’t put in hard work! But how do you work hard while also guarding yourself against unhealthy habits and thought patterns?


It’s worth taking an honest look at the hard work you’re doing to see if perhaps you’ve let some hustle creep in unaware. I humbly offer these three signs that perhaps you’ve crossed the line from hard work to hustle:


1. You’ve stopped praying about it.

You have a goal/idea/dream/desire and you’re passionate about it. You were all fired up at the beginning and prayed your socks off. But somewhere along the line, you stopped involving God in prayer. Honestly, you kind of got tired of praying. Perhaps because the desired outcome eludes you and your focus shifted to new/different strategies. Or perhaps because you’re now living your desired outcome, coasting on cruise control. Either way, you’ve crowded prayer out the back door.


2. You have a vice grip on the outcome.

There is only one acceptable outcome for the work you’re putting in and anything different feels like failure. You have a vision for the way you want things to go and you’re working hard to make it happen, but now you’ve ended up with tunnel vision. If the desired outcome doesn’t happen, then what happens to you? You’ve tied your value to a specific result and have forgotten that the God you serve is sovereign over the outcome.


3. You lack longevity.

You didn’t think you’d be this tired this fast. Instead of steadiness, what you’re experiencing can be better described as “fits and starts.” You have the pedal to the metal one moment and are coasting to a standstill the next. It doesn’t feel sustainable and even though that scares you, you don’t know what to do about it. Overexertion, by nature, can never last long. Instead, intentional, healthy boundaries create the right environment for longevity.


The bottom line?

Hustling has you focused on self: what you want and how you’re going to get it. Even if the desire is a good and godly one, we can work our way into a hustled frenzy when we stop praying, clutch tightly at the outcome, and lose our ability to persevere.


The solution?

God calls us to hard work! When we use our gifts, time, and talents for God, we glorify Him. When we steward what God’s given us, we honor Him. So don’t stop working hard! But in your hard work, don’t stop praying. Resist a tight-fisted, tunnel-vision approach that refuses to surrender the outcome to God. Don’t forget the intentional boundaries that will create a healthy environment for longevity. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), prayerfully, intentionally, open-handedly surrendering your work and the outcome to Him.

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