Tag Archives: success

What I know about you. . .

. . . you are a success!

 

One of my favorite chuckles was from a few years ago when a candy bar company was running a contest.  To find out if you had won, all you had to do was unwrap the candy bar.  But every one I saw had the words, “Sorry, you are not a winner.”  How depressing!  Even my candy bars called me a loser!

The motivational speakers used to ask us what we would attempt if we knew that we couldn’t fail.  What would you be doing now, if you knew you could be successful?  Because motivational speakers usually appeal to the needs of the flesh, they give us energy and incentive to try harder.  The problem is that we still draw from the same source.  We look to our energy to accomplish our projects.

There is another perspective available to those who trust in Jesus.  We can look to Him for His energy to accomplish His projects.

When you came to Jesus, I hope you were convinced of your own inability to do what was necessary for your salvation.  I hope that someone told you the good news of what God had already done for you in Jesus.  I hope that you accepted His work on your behalf.

And I hope that attitude didn’t stop there.  Many preachers will tell people they are unworthy to gain their salvation then expect those same people to be good enough to maintain salvation.  But if you weren’t good enough to get it, how can you be good enough to keep it?  And further, if you can’t keep it on your own, how can you make your Christian life successful on your own?  Now, I know that some preachers will allow even this and say that we need Jesus to help us do what we are supposed to do.  But the whole truth is that He is not our helper, He is our Lord.

You see, when you came to Jesus and trusted in Him, success was redefined in your life.  Because of your association with Him, you will always be a winner.  He holds the victory and He gives it to those who are His.  He ran the race and, in Him, we are the champions.

But there’s more: in Psalm 1, David wrote about the person who delights in the Lord:

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

Even your projects will be successful!

I was visiting with a friend the other day and I reminded him that success for the believer is in the journey, not the destination.  Our goal is to walk with the Lord who loves us, not to accomplish something for Him.  Why would you want to give Jesus a gift He didn’t ask for, isn’t interested in, and won’t use?  But as you walk with Him, you will learn that He does His work and you are privileged simply to participate.  The work is His, the strength is His, the wisdom is His, and the results are His—He just shares the joy of success with you.

What if you didn’t have to worry about results?  Would you find rest easier?  What if you didn’t have to work to be successful?  Would you find more joy in life?

Don’t worry.  The important work will get done.  You will still have an active life.  But the frustration and fear and burden will be gone.  You are already a success!

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Faithfulness and Worldly Success

Over the past few posts I have been writing about some of the strange ideas we pick up in the church.  One idea that has many forms is that God blesses the faithful with worldly success.  However, the opposite is also taught: Worldly success is a sign of spiritual compromise. 

The idea that faithfulness and success are connected has a flaw.  Who gets to define these terms?  My definition of faithfulness would probably mean far less activity and far more heart connection to the Lord, but I doubt that many teachers today would agree with that.  And success, well that’s something even harder to define.

Let’s say that Mr. X is a Christian businessman.  Let’s say that he makes a lot of money.  He takes home substantially more than you and I do.  So, does that mean that the Lord loves Mr. X more than He loves us?  Or does that mean that Mr. X is more faithful in his walk than we are?  Some would go there.  Some would suggest that business success is dictated by spiritual faithfulness.

But others would suggest just the opposite.  They would say that Mr. X couldn’t possibly make so much money if he was being honest or kind or faithful to the Lord.  They would say the fact that he lives in the big house on the hill proves that he takes advantage of others and is miserly.

Many legalist groups subtly teach that worldly success is a sign of God’s approval.  They teach how to get out of debt, how to be a good employee, how to dress for impression, etc.  They welcome the wealthy businessmen on their boards and committees.  But outwardly they say they don’t trust business success and teach that God works through financial struggles to teach and to bless.

So what’s the solution?  How do we determine success in life?  How do we decide who is successful and who is not?  Maybe we don’t.  Maybe that’s not our responsibility.

I try to be consistent in teaching that the Christian life is walking with Jesus.  My only goal in ministry is to follow Him.  Now, if that’s the case, then what would success be?  I think success would be to be with Him.

That means that He will take care of the money, the reputation, the influence, and the popularity of my life.  As He leads me, He will give me whatever I need to do what He asks of me.  My resources will come from Him and be for Him.  If He wants me to have a great deal of money at a certain time, the money will be there.  If He wants a large number of people to listen to what He tells me to say, the people will be there.  But sometimes I might not need money for what He asks me to do.  And sometimes I may need to focus on a much smaller group of people.  Success will never be measured by the standards of the world, but by His delight in using me for His glory.

Think of the disciples.  What did they have?  Houses, land, bank accounts?  But were they successful?  Were they faithful?  We remember them because they followed Jesus.

Let’s face it: the flesh wants to measure success.  The Spirit doesn’t care what the world thinks.  The flesh compares itself to others and wants to stand in a certain place.  The Spirit knows that this world is fading away.  The flesh sees others as competition and wants to get ahead.  The Spirit longs for relationship and love and doesn’t care who’s ahead.

Your thoughts?

 

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