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July 21, 2009

Secrets of Success

Last month during a meeting of the Chicagoland Christian Writers Group, a member spoke about fear of success coming from the sneaky suspicion that our writing is not as good as it ought to be. Maybe we suffer from a Moses complex, you know, "Surely God has made a mistake - shouldn't someone else carry this message?" She spoke about giving ourselves over to the belief that God is the author of our talents and has made no mistake.

As I listened, I realized that I don't suffer from a Moses complex. Yes, I fear success, but for an entirely different reason. My fear is wrapped up in pride.

Pride has been an on-going sin-problem for me. It seems that most everything I've undertaken to do reaped praise, and I've not been quick to give God the glory. Rather, I tend to exhibit a peacock complex: preening rather than praising. I wonder, "If I attain success, will I lose all humility and suffer the displeasure of God?" I wonder, "Is all pride sin?"

Galatians 6:4 tells me, "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load." Not all pride is sin, but there are qualifiers to this sanctified pride.

The key is to test our actions, but against what? Other Scriptures instruct us to test "the spirit" to be sure the message is from God. (I John 4:1) For me, I ask, "From where does this desire to write (substitute your own call) originate? Is this a summons from God, or do I simply believe I have some personal wisdom to impart?"

Then there is the warning against comparisons. It would be easy for any of us to fall in one of two directions. If I compare my work against yours, and find it lacking, I may lose hope and my call could be silenced. Or, I may think my work is better than yours and presto! Pride pops up to spoil the call.

For me it all comes down to this: Did God give me this desire? If so, my success is not dependent on me, or how my call stacks up against another's. My success is totally dependent on my obedience to follow the call.


Thanks for this article! This really clarified a lot for me. I tend to vacillate between trying to avoid selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3) and trying to avoid NOT using my talents (a la Parable of the Talents, Matthew 29/Luke 14). I think I often downplay the gifts God has given me because I don't want to come across as prideful or conceited - but really, that attitude in itself is prideful. Plus I wind up NOT using my gifts at all when I come at it from that approach. It seems that we need to conduct an accurate, objective survey to determine how God has gifted us. We are responsible for using these talents - not out of selfish ambition, but rather to glorify God - recognizing that they're really His and He is just entrusting them to us now anyway - we cannot take any credit for them. Thanks for helping me think this through!

Thank you for this article. I struggle not to compare my calling to others. I want only to serve God in the capacity He has called me.

Thank you for this ariticle. I am at the other end of the spectrum. I struggle with discouragement. I get a lot of open criticism and it is not always constructive. Because of this I give God the Glory but I do not always maximise or use the gifts that God has given me to their full potential. I want to serve God to the fullest in the capacity that He has called me. At present, I get over-sensitive to what people are saying about me. The article has helped me to put a lot of these issues in perspective. Trying the spirit and questioning my motives will help me to test my real reasons for doing anything. If it is just for showcasing then it would be highly inappropriate. If however, it is purely for God's service, I will need to identify with Christ's suffering and what He did for me on The Cross. Pride too can enter into feelings of discouragment becuase it becomes about self rather than the Glory of God.

Thank you for practising your gift, continue serve in the capactiy God has called you and remain a blessing to others.

In my own life, I'm trying to see that God is the director of my life, which includes a variety of opportunities, one of which is using my passion for writing.

My husband and I have been instructed from our mentor couple from church to allow God to open doors and to close them as HE chooses. This takes some of the pressure off so we don't have to try to figure everything out on our own.

I think Satan tries to overwhelm us with internal struggles that go beyond the chaos of your average soap opera. "Should I do this...but what about that...what if I can't...will she be upset if..." and we get ourselves into trouble because our eyes are on ourselves rather than on God.

Karen--this is a great reminder of the dangers of pride. I think you've really nailed the flip side of a real problem. And I am thinking that perhaps true success isn't even dependent on obedience to his call, but the obedience in and of itself. Thanks for this post!

So, what did you decide? Did He give you the desire? And how do you know that for sure? Because I have the same problem.

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