“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”
- Proverbs 16:3
When you think about success what comes to mind?
Mansions, fancy cars, name brand clothes, and multiple zeros in your bank account; it sounds nice right? Well, what if you did not acquire any of those things, would you still view yourself as successful? There is nothing wrong with financial wealth, and possessions, however, they’re not everything. I think that it may have to do with social media, who knows! But there is an indirect pressure to be “successful” in the eyes of society. By acquiring a lot of stuff and being known for doing a bunch of other stuff. It all has to do with material possessions instead of spiritual progression, and sadly we can't take stuff with us whenever we die. I also believe that something as powerful as success has to involve God because without him we would not even be here. Without God in our lives, we would find false success in vain settings. We can't frame our idea of success according to fleeting and temporary things, we must build our idea of success off of God’s purpose for our lives.
How has God intended us to live? According to the bible in abundance (John 10:10), and with much prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11). However he must be involved in the equation, or else we will be living in an illusion of what we think success really looks like. What we find to be successful is also what we find to be worthy of our attention. Our perspective of success can correlate with what we worship. Idolatry doesn't always require us to bow down to a golden calf. At its core idolatry is the dismissal of God’s sovereignty and a spiritual affair with an ungodly object. It is possible to idolize worldly possessions instead of God, and sadly it's too easy.
We must seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33). Because if we just chase after things we will never be fulfilled (Ecclesiastes 1:14 ). Apostle Paul brings it to our attention in 2 Timothy 4:17, that our biggest mission is to serve the Lord. Some may find wealth and fail to serve the Lord, however, they will be financially satisfied but not spiritually fulfilled. Our main focus in life should be to serve the Lord and follow him wholeheartedly. We must be able to differentiate our motives from the motives of the world. By surrendering our desires into the Lords' hands, and allowing him to shape our intentions, we will find ourselves wanting to pursue him above all else. Our ideals of success should not mirror the world, in fact, they should point people to God. We must remember that any form of true success is from the Lord, and should be used to glorify him. Instead of having financial goals just to flex on others, we should desire to make more so that we can give more. Instead of desiring fame for ourselves, we should desire a platform to advance God's Kingdom. However, we can start doing those things with what we have at the moment. Success is bred from being faithful to God because He rewards those who are loyal to him. Of course, we could attempt to gain “success” with our own doing, but God wouldn't be glorified. As a result, we wouldn't find true success, just an opportunity to be prideful.
Now, since we're are children of God, is success inevitable for us? In short, no. Because God gives us brains to think, and the ability to work. Success is the result of hard work, so we can't forfeit our academic, financial, and business responsibilities altogether, trusting and hoping that success will meet us wherever we are. God himself worked hard whenever he created the heavens and the earth, they didn't just pop up out of nowhere. We have to work hard as unto to Lord in all that we do (Colossians 3:23), we can't just expect to fall right into God's plans for us. Hard work is our way of contributing to God's vision for our lives. In Fact, we have free will, so being successful is a choice. Noah had to build his ark and Jesus had to die on the cross to be successful in what the Lord had called them to do. We serve a hard-working God, and he has graciously given us his Holy Spirit to guide, and strengthen us in all that we do. Which makes finding success a whole lot easier.
When it comes down to success we must also take God's will for our lives into account. If my desires don't align with God’s will for my life; then they're probably not beneficial for me. Sometimes we can ask, ask, ask, and ask again and never receive what we’re asking for. However our Father in heaven knows exactly what we need, and he always blesses us with things that we don't deserve or expect. God is not a genie, so we shouldn't just expect stuff from him. We should never get so caught up in what we desire that we lose sight of having a relationship with God. Honestly, as long as we have salvation that's more than enough if you have a relationship with God just know that spiritually you’re richer than most people.
I like to think that God’s main goal is to sanctify me above all else, and God’s desire for me to be holy exceeds all other things out there. Of course, God wants us to be happy, and he wants to bless us. However, our greatest gift will never come from this world but from the Lord. So if we allow God to shape our view of success, then we will find it in him. Despite what we acquire, we will be content.
Your material version of success may not look like your neighbors. However that's not because you're less than them it's because you're different from them, we all have unique giftings and callings, therefore we will all walk our own unique paths of success. The word of God assures us that we will always be loved, cherished, accepted, forgiven, and so much more. We cannot allow ourselves to be fixated on comparison, because we may fail to see what we’re blessed with. Make goals for yourself and focus on them. Instead of looking to the left and glancing to the right looking at how successful other people appear to be.
When we die the Lord isn't going to say “well done my good and faithful rich and famous child”, he's going to say “well done my good and faithful servant”. Which indicates that God values our souls more than anything and so should we. Being spiritually successful matters more than any other type of success out there. Labor to be a servant, and you will find success along the way, God will shape your life into a successful one. Don't feel so pressured to be successful for your own glory and with your own strength. Making it past Heaven’s gates is already hard enough, so don't allow yourself to be distracted by other affairs. I don't believe that true success has to do with how much you make, or how well known you are. It's more about how you live, and whom you live for. I could have all the riches in the world and still miss out on God’s plan for my life, in turn making me unsuccessful. The aim should be to find success in the avenues that God has called you to and remain faithful to him. It's just that simple, yes it's challenging but simple. I dare you to rethink what success looks like to you.
- Success isn't really success without Jesus.
- Don't compare yourself to others.
- There is nothing wrong with desiring money or even praying for it; just don't make it your number one desire. God should be your number one desire.
- Seek to live out God's will for your life.