What is True Success?

March 9, 2014

The world tends to define success by the amount of money one acquires, or by the position or power one attains. But is this really success? Do people who obtain these things see themselves as successful or happy?

Often, they don’t. They tend to look to other people that have more money, power, etc. and see themselves as not successful enough. Often, they step on others to achieve their success, and thus they end up alone and unhappy, though they have the world’s version of “success”.

God has another definition, and it is as follows.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Joshua 1:8

Let’s focus on the last phrase “then thou shalt have good success” for a few moments.

The Hebrew word there for “success” is śâkal (saw-kal), which means “wise, understanding, success, prudent, skill”, etc.

So the phrase “have good success” carries the notion of “doing wisely”. So the promise there is that God will make their way prosperous, and they will do the right things. But this only applies to the believer who concentrates on God, and obeys him.

This has been true in my life. God taught me that success in the Christian life is not defined by results, but by obedience to God. However, this principle of success is not bound or restricted only to the things of the Christian life, but in all parts of life. I didn’t make this connection. I defined success in witnessing and missions differently than success in business or family life.

When I was self-employed, there were times when we suffered through significant loss of income.  I would get down in the dumps and drag my bottom lip on the ground. God had to remind me what success really is. You see, I had always measured success by results (this is the typical American viewpoint). If we don’t get the end result we are looking for, we consider our efforts failure.

God defines our success simply by how we follow him. Really, when it comes right down to it, we have no control over the results. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about your career, your family life, or reaching others for Christ. We cannot control those results, because they are based on the actions of others.

Having a great family where the children obey their parents and love God, the spouses love each other, and there is love and joy, doesn’t depend on you alone, because you cannot control the other people in your family. You only control your own actions.

You can influence your family members, but you cannot control them.

It’s the same in a career. You may work hard and put in a lot of hours, but in the end, the boss has control over whether you get promotions, raises, etc.

And in the work of God, you cannot force someone to trust Christ, it has to be God working in them.

So here’s where I had the problem. I understood this principle when it came to witnessing and missions, but I rejected it when it came to business and family life. I thought I could control the outcome, and expected my hard work to pay off big.

But God never promised me wealth, only that I would have sufficient to meet my needs. And by the way, he’s been faithful in this promise. My family has never gone hungry, we’ve never been unable to pay our bills. God’s been good.

So think about the gospel for a moment. The mature believer understands the overall plan and goal of the Lord in the gospel, but if you aren’t a believer, and this is all new, then let me explain further.

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
Luke 24:13-21

You see, these men had an expectation of a result. Look at verse 21, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel”, in other words, they expected a military victory over their enemies, and to be freed from their hand. And because they didn’t get this result, they were sad, as verse 17 plainly states.

But Christ trusted the Lord for the results, and made his entire life about obeying the Lord, not about getting results.

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
John 8:29

Christ never said “for I do always those things that get the desired results”, does he?

No, he said “for I do always those things that please him”.

Can you say that same thing about yourself, that you always do what pleases him?

I know I can’t.

There have been times I’ve taken my eyes off of him and sought for worldly success.

So the principle is, obey the Lord, and trust him for the results in all areas of life. As an individual, a family, and a church. Whether you are at your job or witnessing for him, just obey, and let the Lord take care of the results. Don’t define success by the outcome, or you’ll find yourself on an emotional roller coaster, up and down, and it just isn’t worth it (believe me, I know from personal experience).

If you don’t know the Lord as your savior, then you can’t experience the kind of success that serving Christ will bring. I urge you to click here and see how Christ can change your life, and give you true success.

Please leave a comment below. We would love to hear what you think!


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