By every human standard of reckoning, the cross was a waste – the waste of a young life, a prophet’s influence, a leader’s potential. We know the secret of its meaning and achievement only from God’s own statements. Similarly, the Christian’s guided life may appear as a waste – as with Paul, spending years in prison because he followed God’s guidance to Jerusalem, whereas he might otherwise have been evangelizing Europe the whole time. Nor does God always tell us the why and wherefore of the frustrations and losses which are part and parcel of the guided life.
J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Ch. 20.
This has major implications for the Christian. This turns upside down many of our [worldly] ideas of success, achievements, and values. Even in the church, success is often defined the same way the world defines it. Jesus’ name just happens to be attached to it.
When performed in humble obedience to God, the most wasteful work in the eyes of man, may very well be the most glorious work in the eyes of God.