Success is a mirage often chased by the spiritually dehydrated.
Before I begin, please understand that these are not all-inclusive statements, nor are they absolute. I merely speak to the experiences I’ve encountered over the years.
Leadership conferences, district council’s, general council’s, church multiplication seminars, how-to meetings, online training sessions, church growth meetings etc., are all designed to take what is not and create what should be. The unfortunate deterrent from true success is how we try to manipulate it. John Smith (fictional) is a gifted communicator and effective church planter so John Smith is paraded in front of hundreds or thousands because of his great success. We then, as lemmings do, begin to worship everything John Smith.
We do this to ourselves. We want results. Who wouldn’t? But we don’t alway’s want the results. We want the way the results make us feel. We want the feeling of being empowered. We want the feeling of being important, needed, embraced, celebrated, admired. The results? Well, they’re inconsequential.
Wait, no, the results are important because the results create the mirage of success we spoke of. Because we need the results we are willing to try anything to get them. We’ll spend thousands of dollars to hopefully mimic the path to results. After all, the quicker we get the results the quicker we can sign a book deal, get invited onto Larry King Live, and offer some much needed spiritual advice to the president. At that point, well, at that point we no longer need the results because we have arrived at our mirage of success.
I know. This sounds cynical. I don’t mean it to be, I really don’t. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to overhear, and have, some conversations lately that steer me to this uncomfortable discontent. I rejoice for the success… the unmistakable success that has been drenched with humility and the presence of God. I celebrate the path lined with risk-filled faith and months of prayer born out of brokenness which produced authentic life-change in the individual, family, and community. I get giddy and excited and motivated when I speak with these people… the people who God exalts, much to their dismay. Those who who would trade the praise of a thousand colleagues for a couple of hours of quality time spent with their children or spouse.
When I see these successful people I have little concern or praise for their methods. I don’t want to be them. I don’t want to be like them. I want to be like the Jesus inside them. I want to have the connection to God they demonstrate. I want the Holy Spirit to lead me as he has led them. I want the act of obedience in my life to be greater than the results the obedience yields.
And even more so for those who have yet to encounter Jesus. God help us to love needing nothing in return because the obedience is greater than the result. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to do what He does. Let’s entrust all results to God and let’s focus all we are on simply being obedient… one step at a time. Maybe, just maybe, when others see us they won’t be drawn to us. They’ll be drawn to the Jesus inside us.