Our culture exalts success. The media endlessly parades celebrities and successful people before us. Successful entrepreneurs are asked to share their secrets. If you Google “successful people” you’ll come up with blog after blog sharing secrets of successful people, things successful people do that others don’t, things successful people do on weekends, quotes from successful people, etc.
The Bible even says that God grants success. But nowhere does the Bible say we should make success our goal. Believers in Jesus are to aim for faithfulness and leave success up to God.
In the parable of the talents the first two servants were “successful” in that their diligence and hard work had doubled what their master had given them, but the master’s commendation was not, “Well done good and successful servant,” but “Well done good and faithful servant.”
For many years our church had little or no growth. At times I envied pastors of large churches. Then I heard a couple sayings attributed to Charles Spurgeon. The first was that once when addressing a group of pastors he said, “Are you discouraged because your church is so small? Is it big enough to be responsible for on judgment day?” I don’t think I’ve envied a pastor of a large church after hearing that. I also heard that Spurgeon once said, “It is better to be lowly and in the valley than on the mountaintop because when you’re on the mountaintop you have so much further to fall.” We’ve certainly seen that happen. So if you’re plodding along in the valley be glad – you don’t have nearly as far to fall as someone on the mountaintop of success.
Here are some good “valley” faithfulness pursuits: Try to faithfully and consistently talk with your children about the Lord and cultivate your friendship with them. If you are married, try to faithfully serve your spouse. Seek to be faithful in whatever work God gives you, whether in your home or at school or in the workplace. Try to cultivate faithfulness in Bible intake and prayer. Seek to serve faithfully in your church no matter how lowly the tasks you are given. Whatever gifts God has given you, seek to use faithfully for his glory.
If God does grant you success, above all remember that your gifts and talents and opportunities have come from him. What do you have that has not been given to you? If you are successful, continually give Jesus thanks for all he has done and continue to fear the Lord, for pride comes before a fall.
And make your goal not to be successful, but to someday hear God say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant.”