God Wants Me To Be Successful?
Last week I was browsing in my local bookstore. I picked up a book with lots of promises on the cover about what success will come if I implement the teachings of this book into my work. I brought it home only to add it to a bookshelf loaded with books with similar promises.
Wherever you work, there will always be another book to read, another leader to emulate, or another leadership model to adopt. If you want to succeed, there is no shortage of books telling you what to do. But how can we know if the success described in these books is what God considers success? How do we define godly success for our businesses and churches and schools?
Essentially "success" means accomplishing something we set out to do. The key is to set out to do what God wants us to do, even if it doesn't look much like success in the eyes of the world.
A quick run through Scripture shows us many pictures of success with the same goal: doing whatever God says regardless of the cost. Hebrews 11, the "faith chapter," is a great place to turn to see what kind of things God defines as successful.
We learn how Abel's sacrifice was accepted by God while Cain's was rejected. We learn that Moses brought God's people through the Red Sea while the Egyptians drowned. We find that kingdoms were conquered, the mouths of lions were shut, foreign armies fled from God's people, and city walls crumbled when God wanted them to.
That's the kind of success we want: great accomplishments with fame to boot. But we also learn that some of God's people were mocked and sawed in two, killed by the sword and imprisoned. Were they less successful?
God's idea of success is obedience by faith. It's really that simple. Living by faith means believing what God has promised, even when we don't see it. Obedience means living those promises out even when the consequences are less than desirable.
As a pastor, I have to realize that some pastors succeed by reaching thousands, writing books, and doing any number of public things for God's glory. But others succeed by serving in the middle of nowhere with a handful of people in their church.
For your work, success may mean climbing the corporate ladder, starting a business, or making decisions that may influence the global economy. For others, success may mean working a 9-to-5 job for the rest of their lives with a boss who doesn't like them very much.
Success is a matter of being where God wants you to be, doing what he wants you to do by faith while "looking forward to the city that has foundations" (Heb. 11:10). We can keep our eyes on the city no matter where we are. When we do, we are successful.