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Dying to Succeed

Success

There are those who will do anything to get to the top.  They are dying to succeed and are killing themselves because of the stress and workaholic lifestyle.   These individuals are climbing the organizational ladder and will step on or over anyone who gets in their way.  Phrases such as “it’s a dog eat dog world out there,” “survival of the fittest,” and “lead, follow, or get out of the way” are often used.  Many see success as a title or position of power but it is interesting that when Jesus was on earth He had no title or position but He had ALL authority.  

#1.  Are you are driven by survival and motivated to just “get by?”   When you accept the status quo you just want to get along. 

#2.  Are you driven to succeed and motivated to “get ahead?”  This can be dangerous if you so driven you are willing to do almost anything to get ahead of others.

#3.  Are you driven by significance and they would like to “get affirmation?”  You desire to make a difference but you may be seeking others applause a little too much..

Ralph Waldo Emerson said this, “I fear the popular notion of success stands in direct opposition in all points to the real and wholesome success. One adores public opinion, the other, private opinion; one, fame, the other, desert; one, feats, the other, humility; one, lucre, the other, love; one, monopoly, and the other, hospitality of mind.”  The definition of success is subjective.  You must decide what success looks like.  How you define success will determine how you treat other people and how you carry out the responsibilities you have.

Success is not just surviving, accepting the status quo, or only doing what is safe.  Some define success as doing what is least dangerous for themselves, their families, and their churches.  They have accepted success to be about self-preservation.  Success, scripturally, can only be achieved when we value living radically and dangerously rather than safely and comfortably.  Success is not just giving our time, talents, and treasures but giving our lives for the sake of the kingdom.  Jesus said this, “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

Success to God is the opposite of worldly success.  The humble are exalted, and the exalted are humbled.  The weak are strong, and the strong are weak.  The rich are actually poor, and the poor are actually rich.  The wise are foolish, and the foolish are wise.  Death comes from life, and holding on to life brings death.  Neal Cole says it this way, “From our worldly perspective, the kingdom of God is backwards.  It is upside down.  In a sense, everything you think you know is right is wrong, and everything you think is wrong is right.”

For example, have we convinced ourselves that anything considered unsafe is outside of the will of God and foolish?  Jesus never talked about a safe way of following Him.  He did, however, tell us to watch out for wolves, let the dead bury their dead, die to self, and if we loved anyone more than Him we were not worthy of Him.  Matthew 10:39 says it well, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”  We are to die to self because it is the only way we can live for Jesus.  We must die to succeed!

Self-preservation is not “success” because it actively chooses a cheap substitute to the life of faith God has intended for us.  It is a “churchianity” that is carried out by men, for men, in the name of God.  When we choose to preserve our lives by playing it safe we are actually choosing death but when we choose death we are actually choosing life.  Death is absolutely essential if we want to be a “successful” disciple of Jesus Christ.  We are unworthy of Jesus when we are unwilling to die to self.  To succeed you must die!

Success can only occur when we choose to live for Jesus and not ourselves.  There is no disciple without a death.  Once again allow me to quote Neal Cole, “I have come to believe that the health of any organization can be evaluated in direct proportion to its willingness to die.  The more vested they are in self-preservation, the less health they will have.  The more willing to die so the kingdom can flourish, the healthier the organization is.”  When we decide to die that is what actually brings life to our personal walk with Christ and to our churches! 

Bob Logan says that his father defined success as, “finding the will of God and doing it!”