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What Defines Success, and How to Get There

by Chuck Bentley December 18, 2017

When you’re meeting a new person or group of people, what are some of the most common initial questions you ask?

“What do you do?”

“Where do you live?”

Translated, these questions really mean: Do you have a job? How good is your job? How much does it pay? How high up are you in your company? What neighborhood do you live in? City or suburbs? How nice is your house or apartment?

Yes, of course we ask these questions to genuinely get to know someone. But underneath all the small talk, many use this opportunity to size up someone’s success. We look first at their material accumulation and professional standing to determine their level of success.

Money, Fame, Power

The world would define success as more, bigger, better. On this earth, success equates to accomplishing goals, enjoying the fruits of your accomplishments, and accrediting it all to your own hard work.

The world would tell you that the accumulation of nice, expensive, or rare items is a sign of your success. That becoming a workaholic isn’t actually a bad thing because it means you are likely very important to your company.

This mentality seems to have infested every corner of our nation, leading to rising debt, crippling anxiety, and broken families. We fear the future and stress over income and retirement plans and don’t rest in God’s promises or apply His principles. We compare our “success” to that of others and rob one another of joy.

We encumbered ourselves by following worldly advice that stresses bigger, more, and better. We borrow more than we can afford and miss opportunities to give.

A dependency on money creeps into our lives and before we know it our lifestyle is controlled by it. The Federal Reserve reports that the average American household carries $137,063 in debt. But, the Census Bureau reports that the median household income was around $59,000 last year. Our cumulative debt problem indicates where the trap has been set for millions of Americans.

Money, Honesty, Faithfulness

Scripture tells us that we should measure success with a different standard and not by the selfish pursuit of more, more, more.

James 3:16: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

Oswald Chambers said, “Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us – and we cannot measure that at all.”

Many assume success means money, power, and position. But, God measures it by faithfulness.

The Bible tells us to “… lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

God is looking for followers who are doers of the Word – those who are faithful with what He provides – regardless of how much or how little.  This is a matter of surrender, accepting God’s lordship over every area of your life – including your finances..

To be successful in God’s eyes means being willing to relinquish your rights and accept His plan for your life. That is where true joy is found – not in things of this world.

To be a financial success from God’s perspective, follow these three guidelines:

  • Surrender. Denounce your perceived rights, expectations and demands. Ask God to completely take control of your life and give you wisdom for financial decisions.
  • Obey. Those who are truly blessed by God demonstrate a willingness to use their material resources for God’s purposes according to His principles. Our financial decisions should be marked by faithful stewardship as God’s manager.
  • Persist. All of us will face challenges, obstacles and times of frustration. It is important to persevere in our faith, knowing that God will work all things together for our good.

Larry Burkett said “Most Christians are more than content to live out their lives surrounded by the trappings of our world, rather than to risk losing them in becoming a radical Christian…one who will put God first in all decisions, even when putting God first is costly.”

True freedom is found in faithfulness. If you want to learn more about what that looks like in your daily life, enroll in Crown’s online MoneyLife Personal Finance Study. In 7 weeks, you’ll learn what God’s Word says about every area of your finances, and how to put it into practice.

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