God Wants You to Succeed
How do you measure your true worth?
By Charles F. Stanley
We live in a world where everyone seems preoccupied with success. Television, the Internet, radio, and magazines give us a global bird’s-eye view of the world’s winners—and losers. And we’re fascinated by it, aren’t we?
But what does it mean to succeed in life? Furthermore, given how the world reacts to successful people, and considering the negative ways that many people strive for personal achievement, is success even a godly pursuit?
Let me answer that question right from the start: Yes. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not only allowed to strive for success; we’re called to do so. God is overwhelmingly interested in our victories, but as sinful men and women, we often get confused about this issue. Therefore, we must begin by understanding a true and godly definition of success.
What Is Success?
The world most often defines the term as simply one’s ability to achieve personal goals. For example, a football coach may consider himself to be a success if he wins every game. Or a college student may appear successful if she makes straight A’s. So it can be difficult to establish a definition that we can all agree on, because the measurement often depends on our individual goals.
Instead, we must ask the question, What is it that would make God see me as a success? You see, the world’s perspective fluctuates, but the Lord’s view is constant: to Him, my greatest achievement is a continuing desire to be the person He has called me to be and to reach the goals He has helped me to set.
Allow that statement to sink in for a moment. Read it again, this time out loud. Everything else I will say about success hangs on this one crucial point, so make sure you grasp it.
There are two critical elements in the statement. First, our success depends on being who God wants us to be. Second, it depends on doing what He calls us to do. In both areas, God is the focus. Our goal is to fully realize what He has set forth for us. Therefore, our victories ultimately belong to Him, and He deserves all the praise.
You cannot be successful if you leave the Lord out of your life. Now, by the world’s standard, you may appear to “have it all,” but what is the eternal value of fame and fortune? Certainly, there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, but we must overcome the notion that “FAME + FORTUNE = SUCCESS.”
Money and celebrity cannot bring lasting peace, joy, love, contentment, and eternal security, which are available only through the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Does this mean that Christians can take their wealth with them when they leave this world? No, of course not. However, here’s the powerful truth: We do not need to take our treasure with us, because we have already sent it ahead. In seeking a life motivated by godly goals, we are already amassing a great treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20-21). Therefore, our true worth will be measured by our eternal reward, not our earthly wealth.
You may ask, “Well, then, should we avoid material wealth?” No, not at all. However, we have to be crystal clear on one important point: Fame and fortune may be the external results of success, but they themselves are not success. Remember, success is not about what you have, but about what you are. In its purest sense, success is simply being the man or woman God has called you to be.
When we think of it this way, there is no doubt that God is interested in our success! Not only is He interested, but He intentionally encourages us to be triumphant. Scripture offers four proofs.
First, God plans for us to succeed. We see this in the lives of many men and women in the Bible. For example, do you remember the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50? By the world’s standards, he was doomed from the start. The young Hebrew had been beaten and sold into slavery by his own brothers, and for years he lived a life of servitude and imprisonment. However, in everything Joseph did, God made him thrive.
In those important chapters of Genesis, we see Joseph as a shepherd boy, then a slave, later as a prisoner, and ultimately as the prime minister of Egypt! Surely God had planned for the faithful servant’s good fortune, even during those years when all seemed hopeless.
We see similar accounts throughout biblical history. Moses, David, Nehemiah, and Joshua all demonstrate this same kind of greater divine plan for distinction. And, of course, let’s not forget the apostles—they thrived in the first century and spread the good news of salvation around the world. No doubt, their mission must be considered a success, or we would have no churches or record of Jesus Christ at all.
In each of these examples, people discovered what the Lord wanted them to do, committed their lives to it, followed godly principles, and achieved their goals. In the eyes of God, they were all successful.
Second, God provides for our success. I have shelves of books on this topic, and I’ve yet to find an overriding principle of achievement that is not also found in God’s Word. The Bible contains every fundamental concept on success that I’ve ever read in any other book. Different authors may pluck an idea out of the Scriptures and write a book about it, but they didn’t create the principle.
Something I’ve often seen mentioned in these books is the utter need for faith. Now, some authors may say success depends on faith in one’s self, while others point to belief in some “higher power.” But as followers of Jesus Christ, we can name that source of our strength: almighty God, who cares for us. You see, God alone is the author of success. Without Him, a person will ultimately know only failure—and in the meantime, perishable wealth at best.
Third, God equips us for success. Because He calls us to be shining lights in a dark world, He has provided what we need in order to be successful men and women. For example, every believer has been given certain abilities, or spiritual gifts. These are amazing endowments that enable us to do the things that God calls us to do.
The Lord has also equipped us by giving every believer the presence of His indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings us into intimate contact with the heavenly Father, empowers our daily lives, teaches us the things of God, and gives us His discernment.
In the power of the Holy Spirit, we have access to supernatural decision-making processes. You see, the Lord doesn’t set people up to fail. He would get no glory from that. Instead, He gives us what we need to be successful in what He has called us to do.
Fourth, God promises us success. You may argue, “Well, if God has promised me success, then somewhere along the way, He messed up.” No, He hasn’t. However, if we’re struggling to find any areas of accomplishment in our lives, it may be that we ourselves have gotten off course.
What did the Lord tell Joshua? He told him to be strong and courageous, to obey His Word, and to be careful to keep His commandments. And the result? “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:7-8). Do you see? The formula for success is right there in black and white in the pages of Scripture.
Conditions for Success
Now, here is what we must not miss: God may have planned, provided, equipped, and promised, but our personal success has some conditions. After all, the Lord will not make us victorious in spite of ourselves!
Therefore, we must pay attention to three specific conditions:
- Establish God-given goals. Search the Lord’s will and set measurable goals for what He wants you to accomplish. His will does not happen by accident; we must make a decision to seek after Him.
- Walk obediently before the Father in the process of achieving these goals. How can we expect God to help us succeed in life when we choose to disobey the principles of His Word? Scripture tells us how to live; we are to abide by its guidelines as we pursue our goals.
- Rely fully upon the Holy Spirit as we practice godly principles of success. We cannot go about the Christian life as though we were acting in a one-man show. We can be successful in Christ only when we submit completely to the leading, direction, and empowerment of God’s Spirit.
The Lord is intimately concerned with our success. Since He determines our goals and equips us to meet them, we should never be too ashamed to claim the blessings
He gives for that purpose. Therefore, we must often stop to take an honest look at how we define success, and then measure our understanding against Scripture. There is truly only one way we’ll ever achieve success—God’s way.
In How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, Dr. Stanley shares the essentials for living the kind of life God designed you to live. To purchase, visit our online bookstore here.