Does Success Equal Blessed?
As human beings we have an innate desire to be successful. We can be driven to obtain or perform the next best thing. We discover a talent within us and we cultivate it – train to make it stronger or better. Most of us start at entry-level education and jobs and spend months and years pressing toward the next level up.
What’s so wrong with that? Nothing, unless your motivation and purpose are not aligned with the things God intended to go along with ‘success’.
As Christians, our desire is to be like Jesus and to live our lives the way God says is holy and healthy and beautiful. Our desire is to honor God. Why should we? It’s a fair question. It’s a question that can’t really be answered by anyone but the one asking because to answer it cultivates a belief system that will shape your life. I can present evidence. I can give you my testimony of why I choose to live as honorably as I can for Him. I can tell you that I believe that God is the author of humanity and that He created all life because He wanted to be a part of it. I can tell you that He loves it and He loves you. So much that He has endeavored to insert Himself in His creation as much as humanity would allow Him every step of the way. And even when humanity says, ‘no, thank you’; He still sacrificed Himself to make a way to Him just in case we changed our minds. But you don’t have to believe me- or Him.
He already created you – complete with parts of Himself inside. You can take the talents you discover in yourself and go out and be hugely successful. With the right amount of strength and perseverance and intelligence and wisdom and patience…you can be a great success. With or without Him. But strength, perseverance, intelligence, wisdom, patience…God is the author of all of it. He is the founder and the gifter. You have it because He gave it to you.
As Christians, we may ask ourselves, ‘Is our success because we’re blessed by God or because we’re just really good at what we do?’ Many people are successful where God may not even have been asked to participate. How can a thing be ‘blessed’ by a hand that hasn’t been invited to be involved? (And I’m going to boldly suggest to you that it’s more than a ‘Oh God, please bless this.’ and expecting everything to go your way!)
Sometimes we find ourselves on the flipside of this coin, asking ourselves, ‘Am I not successful because God is punishing me or doesn’t care or I’m just not talented?’ We have to be careful with our questioning. We can have a warped idea of what success is and whatever we believe about it will shape how we pursue it. We want to know if God is blessing us. Is my success a blessing from the hand of God or effort from my own hand? The answer to that is in the examination of our pursuit of success. We ‘spend’ ourselves every day. Is it motivated by a desire to serve and please God according to His idea of success? What is His idea of success? Proverbs 2 shows us that His idea has a lot to do with being an ethical person who spends themselves in the pursuit of wisdom and understanding Him. It talks about the knowledge of God like a great treasure to be found. That’s because in Him are strength, righteousness, love, wisdom, joy, compassion, patience, protection…things you will find make the journey to success sweeter when you invite Him to be a part of the pursuit. Without that alignment, you will find the journey stressful – even harmful to your overall health and potentially devastating to your loved ones.
Here is a quick checklist to see if God is in your success and then read through Proverbs 2 to see God’s idea of the path to success.
- You’ve invited God to participate.
- You would walk away from it if He asked.
- You’ve asked God’s will for you and your endeavor at each turn and you take time to listen for His response.
- You are not too busy to pray.
- You take every opportunity to give God credit and glory for what is accomplished.
- You are not too busy to put God, spouse, or family first.
- You do not have to sin in any way to progress. No grey lines or sacrificed morals to make it happen.
God does bring blessing and success to those who walk with Him and include Him in their endeavors. It’s all He’s ever wanted and He’s delighted to do it. God’s not looking for credit when you do it all by yourself. He’s looking for the journey and arriving together.
Proverbs 2 (HCSB)
1My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
3 furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up success for the upright;
He is a shield for those who live with integrity
8 so that He may guard the paths of justice
and protect the way of His loyal followers.
9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,
and integrity—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your mind,
and knowledge will delight your heart.
11 Discretion will watch over you,
and understanding will guard you,
12 rescuing you from the way of evil—
from the one who says perverse things,
13 from those who abandon the right paths
to walk in ways of darkness,
14 from those who enjoy doing evil
and celebrate perversion,
15 whose paths are crooked,
and whose ways are devious.
16 It will rescue you from a forbidden woman,
from a stranger with her flattering talk,
17 who abandons the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 for her house sinks down to death
and her ways to the land of the departed spirits.
19 None return who go to her;
none reach the paths of life.
20 So follow the way of good people,
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those of integrity will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous uprooted from it.