“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
What does success look like? It can look like any number of things. So often we elevate people in our minds simply because we know they do well in their careers. We need to dig a little deeper because money doesn’t define a person’s life. A person’s financial success, or their prestige, does not tell us anything other than the individual knows how to make money. The goal is not to criticize those who have been blessed with much but to allow the Holy Spirit to redefine what we believe is the measure of success.
God’s standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will. In God’s eyes, success means discovering His will for your life and using that purpose for His glory, rather than your own.
Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling. But judging from 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, you would hardly view him as being successful. “I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
But none of those things deterred him from obeying God’s will. His final testimony was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7). Jesus teaches us that success is about seeking first God’s kingdom while allowing God to provide for the rest: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33). Success then is walking with God and experiencing the joy of His presence in your life. In each situation, you can confidently give your best efforts and trust the results to Him.
Examine your personal definition of success on a spiritual level. If God has called you to do something, to be someone, are you obeying? God’s definition of success is obedience.
- How have you defined success throughout your life? In what ways has God equipped you to be successful?
- What do you think will happen when you’re able to let go of the world’s idea of success and instead embrace what the Bible says about success?