14: The temptations of success at work (2 Chronicles 26:4, 10, 16)

Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 26:4,10,16

How could king after king of Israel fall so easily into evil? The story of Uzziah may give us some insight. He ascended to the throne at age sixteen and at first “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 26:4). His young age proved to be an advantage, as he recognized his need for God’s guidance. Interestingly, much of the success the Lord gave Uzziah was related to ordinary work.

“He was marvelously helped,” the scripture tells us, “until he became strong” (2 Chron. 26:15b). Then his strength became his undoing because he began to serve himself instead of the Lord. He attempted to usurp the religious authority of the priests, leading to a palace revolt that cost him the throne and left him an outcast the rest of his life.

Uzziah’s tale is sobering for people in leadership positions today. The character that leads to success—especially our reliance on God—is easily eroded by the powers and privileges that success brings. How many business, military, and political leaders have come to believe they are invincible and so lose the humility, discipline, and attitude of service needed to remain successful? How many of us at any level of success have paid more attention to ourselves and less to God as our power increases even modestly? Uzziah even had the benefit of subordinates who would oppose him when he did wrong, although he ignored them.

What, or who, do you have to keep you from drifting into pride and away from God should your success increase?

Prayer: Jesus, should I experience success, I hope pride and power don’t get the better of me. May I always keep my eyes and heart focused on you. Amen.

*This is an excerpt from Arrogance and the End of the Kingdoms (2 Chronicles 26) in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.

For Further Exploration: Read When Success Leads to Complacency (Deuteronomy 4:25-40) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.