It’s no secret…I love to read. I love to read so much that I have at least 50 books on deck waiting for me to devour them. I’m surrounded by people who love to read. And it’s definitely part of the culture of our community. As I observe different trends, I believe there’s been a surge in popularity over the last 10-12 years of business and entrepreneurial books. That’s great. I see a lot of parallels, a lot of natural “truths”… it makes sense. I myself am a fan of Howard Schultz and Steve Jobs. But I also see an increasing danger with some of the transferable principles which sound more like motivational self-help models.
My fear is that many of these sources place way too much emphasis on human effort, ingenuity, personal ability, and a celebration of worldly accomplishments. That produces a very humanistic definition of success. It’s bad enough that we’re in a society saturated with greed, competition, and pride. And in our efforts to serve God, we might actually be serving our own ambitions and catering to our insecurities.
We have examples throughout the Scriptures of misplaced passion. From Babylon wanting to defy God and magnify their own achievements to Moses’ impatience with Israel and striking the rock twice. Just about all the kings of Israel and Judah taking matters into their own hands. From mighty King Nebuchadnezzar beholding his mighty empire to the Apostle Paul’s arrogant rants and rebukes. Our functions and achievements are greatly over exaggerated when compared to the greatness of Almighty God.
As I emerge from a very strange and frustrating 5 year season in my life, God has been helping me to understand success and failure in a different way. In the American Church, I believe we take too much credit for the success we think we’re experiencing. We so desperately need the Holy Spirit today to help us do some heavy introspection. Have we bought into the world’s standard of productivity? Are we basing our success on numbers? [David] Is that how we determine our strength and effectiveness? [Gideon].
Of the many conversations that annoy me are the ones that subtly absorb praise and exude over confidence. On a regular basis I listen patiently while feelings of inferiority prompt other ministers to recite their resumes in everyday conversation. Exchanges revolve around I. “I can do this; I know what it takes to make this happen; I’m this and I’m that; I’ll blow that up; I’ll make it work.” That’s great but what happened to “God, I’m desperate for you; You’re all I need; I’m lost and helpless without you; God, hide me behind the Cross.”
- We say His sacrifice is enough but do we bemoan ours more?
- We’re to declare His works but do we take the credit instead?
- We believe He’s more than able but do we talk more about our efforts?
- We acknowledge it’s all about Him, but do we excessively and publicly pat ourselves on the back?
- We point upward deflecting the praise to God, but with the other hand do we point at ourselves?
- We give praise to God with our mouths, but do we collect praise from others in our arms?
- Do we blame God for the failures but soak up the successes?
Bottom line is WE NEED GOD. Our only role in the grand scheme is that we were recycled trash who God, in His extreme mercy, retrieved and allowed us to participate. He doesn’t need us. He chooses to involve and use us. And if any promotion is to take place, God will do that.
Now, if I could just live that out daily…