So, you want to be successful?
I’ve accomplished much in life and those around me declared me successful many years ago. I see things differently and remember one time when a friend was aghast that I did not view myself as being successful. He pointed out my successes one by one; overcoming the obstacles presented by my early dark years, my successes in raising a God-fearing family, success in business, accumulating wealth, philanthropy, and in ministry.
I don’t know why I’ve had so much trouble throughout my life with seeing myself as being successful. I seem to dwell on my failures more than my successes; my faults versus my strengths. I remember reading about Billy Graham’s confession of being a sinner and how if people really knew him as he knew himself that they would be appalled by his sin. It seems silly to us, but to him it was serious.
I was speaking with a friend who runs a faith-based clinic to help people restore lives. They try to heal patients who are addicted, depressed, and the like. He told me that I would not believe the number of pastors and more often their wives and others within the church who seek help. They are under enormous pressure and many are too fragile to endure. Many have high expectations that when not speedily met result in low self-esteem and questioning their worth.
In church yesterday, our pastor said something that helped me considerably. He said, “We are called to faith, not to success as man understands success.” This was powerful and very meaningful to me, especially considering my history of low self-esteem. It reminded me of the Jesus Alliance. There are those who have criticized the Jesus Alliance for not being further along. We have some 600,000 followers and send out millions of messages each week, but funds are low and blah blah blah . . . Different folks have their own ideas as to where the organization should be after four years, (one year of which my wife and I were completely bedridden with life threatening ailments.) I’ve even heard some say God cannot be behind it, otherwise it would be at whatever level that they deem it should be by now.
These are good people and friends of mine who mean well, but perhaps are not yet as spiritually mature as they should be. It reminds me of myself when I offer my personal testimony. There have been times when I’ve spoken and afterwards hundreds and hundreds have come forward and made public statements that they want to follow Jesus, and there have been times when hardly anyone did. At those times I tend to look inward and think of myself as a failure. I must remind myself sometimes that God’s Holy Spirit does the calling and convicting, I’m just the messenger boy. Importantly we should understand that God deems us to be a complete success when we are called to faith and we answer that call. Whether one thousand come to Christ or no one does is irrelevant. It is our faith as demonstrated by our obedience that is important.
Noah is said to have preached 120 years without one person being converted from their wicked wicked ways. His faith and obedience were astounding. Moses fled Egypt and went into hiding and exile for years. When God called him out of exile he led his people out of Egypt and then wandered the desert for 40 years. He had a mighty ministry of freeing the Jews from slavery and guiding them into the Promised Land and the Lord gave him the Ten Commandments which will stand forever. Much of that time he was near overwhelmed by discouragement caused by his griping flock, but he remained faithful. Fast forward to modern times, Rick Warren met in a storefront for over a decade putting up chairs after every worship service before he ever got a church. I’m sure he wondered if God would ever bless him by making his vision a reality. He did! There are many other examples, but you get the drift.
All these men of God were successful though they had to wonder at times. God doesn’t operate on our timetable, He doesn’t consult with us concerning outcomes. He tests our faith and it determines our successes and failures.
If you have great faith but are not where you think you ought to be, and maybe even view yourself as a failure, then think again. Being a hero to the world’s eyes is not the object. Know that it is God who sits on the throne and “We are called to faith, not to success as man understands success.”. If you have a vision just keep plugging away on it and don’t worry about the naysayers. Keep the faith my friends – Keep the faith!
And without faith it is impossible to please God . . .