Success can be a problem. We always think it’s the unsuccessful man or woman who needs the most help in getting their life right with God, but I’m not sure that’s true.
I think success can give you false security because when you are successful you have no financial needs … you have all you need and want and then some, and you can be a popular and influential person. Life is just great for this sort of person, and the concept of God is a bonus. However, Jesus told us a story about people whose lives were so important to them, that they didn’t pay much attention to God:
Luke 14 16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room. ’23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Life was more important to these folks who were invited to participate with God and chose to live in the immediate success of their lives. That is clearly a warning to those who have plenty of everything and whose emphasis becomes to take care of that success.
I was talking with a city ministry leader the other day who has developed a ministry that is lean and mobile. One of the many aspects of his ministry is distributing food to the needy. He has developed a way to use buildings owned by others and volunteers managing mobile food distribution sites out of these buildings all over the city. He doesn’t have to spend money on brick and mortar buildings and spends little to no money on staffing. He has learned to do more with less. The reason I bring him up is simple. This leader says, “If I own a building or a fleet of trucks and hire a warehouse of people, then my focus is to manage and fund all this support. If I can partner with others such as churches and get volunteers to work the needs, then I can focus on doing more to get food to the people who need it the most.”
I wonder how that philosophy would work in other areas of the church today? Obviously, someone has to own the buildings used for ministry, but why not share the expense and the responsibility of ownership? As a former pastor, that was much of my dilemma. I had to be a property manager and a caretaker of the facility primarily by default because I was in the building every day. My focus was divided between ministry duties and caretaker duties, and at the end of the day, the caretaker responsibilities consumed more and more of my day. The point I am making is that it is easy to be consumed by life and forget the great calling we all have on our lives by the Lord. Success in life can consume us in negative ways if we allow our success to be maintained at the expense of everything else.
The question everyone has to answer is: “What has God called you to do with your life and your success? Are you controlling your success, or is it controlling you?”
The sad end to the parable Jesus told about those God invited but whose success was too important for them to leave, will never be included in the banquet in heaven. The point Jesus was making is that if you aren’t careful, you can let your life get in the way of serving God. You can’t just stay in the bubble of success and never venture out beyond the perimeters of your fenced-in yard. God calls us to go beyond our success and to answer His call to come and serve Him … not our success. Heed the warning found in:
Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Keep your perspective clearly with Him in sight, and your steps will be ordered by God.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler