A few years ago I was reading a familiar passage of scripture when I noticed a little turn of phrase that caught my attention…
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)
If there’s “good success”, then it stands to reason that there are also other kinds of “success”. We live in a day when many people are obsessed with success. We love success stories, even the so-called overnight success.
But what if we have the wrong definition of success? Living with the wrong definition of success is like playing a sport without knowing the rules, you never know if you’re winning or losing.
It’s possible to get what you want and find you wanted the wrong thing.
In fact it’s possible to climb the ladder of life only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.
There’s even a kind of “success” that you can achieve and later wish you hadn’t. Empty, cheap, selfish “success” that doesn’t bring satisfaction. Here we win the battle but lose the war.
The Father’s heart for you is to experience Good Success.
Success that lasts, that matters, that adds to your life and the lives of others. When God gives good success it looks & feels different to how the world experiences success.
Pr10:22 NKJV The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.
When ‘blessing’ brings sorrow, it came from somewhere other than God!
Israel experienced bad success when they pleaded with God for a king like the other nations, and when he answered their prayers Saul nearly ruined the nation. Some businesses and churches have experienced bad success through rapid growth that seemed like a blessing at the time, but ultimately their culture, their supply chain, or their leadership could not sustain the growth and they crashed.
Jn3:27 MSG It’s not possible for a person to succeed—I’m talking about eternal success—without heaven’s help.
Don’t let success lead you to failure.
Success can make us proud, or blind, or lazy, or lead us to get stuck in our ways. It can open a door in our hearts for pride and self-sufficiency. I don’t ever want so-called success to blind me to my need for a Savior.
Jm4:6b NKJV “God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
The bible is full of stories that should warn us how easily success can lead to failure. Like Moses presumptuously striking the rock to give the Israelites water. Like Samson the strong man flirting with temptation and falling to Delilah. Like King Saul being so consumed with himself that he didn’t even notice when the Spirit of the Lord departed from him. Or Peter who promises to die for Christ and then publicly denies him three times all in the one day.
I don’t say that with judgment but with a sober realization of my own humanity. The simple fact is, but for the grace of God… there go I. I need to guard my heart and not kid myself that I’m invulnerable to the allure of fool’s gold.
Success has its seasons.
One of the primary traps of bad success is comparison. I’ve often struggled with comparison, especially in seasons where it felt like success was elusive. How easy it is to wish for someone else’s life or success… especially the perfectly curated Instagram version of their life.
I guess some people might look at my life that way. And the truth is, I am very blessed and I’m so grateful for my life. If only I could take you back to the hidden years, the broken seasons, the tests of faith, the sowing in tears. I was a full-time volunteer in my first years of ministry, supporting myself by cleaning hotel bathrooms on the graveyard shift overnight. It wasn’t until my sixth year of ministry that I grossed more than $1000 a month. I don’t say that like it’s some badge of honor, and frankly many people have much tougher roads to walk!
But let’s never wish for someone else’s prize if we aren’t willing to pay their price.
We started with Joshua 1:8 so let’s be reminded again that our heavenly Father does want us to experience success with his Word as our foundation and path.
Let’s allow Him to define for each of us what success is. And let’s avoid the traps of pride, comparison and impatience… as we believe for true and lasting success that matters in the light of eternity.
I’d love your comments…
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