Success … is that our goal in life and ministry? Success defined by the world is "wealth, fame or eminence". Success defined by God is obedience. Searching your own heart for which of these measuring sticks you use to judge yourself as "successful"? If we are doing what God told us to do, both in the written Word and in the individual call He has specifically given to each of us, then we should see ourselves through the eyes of God and count our self as "successful". But too often we measure our success by the terms of the world … do we live in wealth? Are we well known? What do we have to show to those who look at our lives?
As people of God our success should be defined by only one criteria … are we pleasing God? And to find the answer to this, we must purge from our definitions the symbols of the world's successes. There are many evil doers who have seemingly achieved success. They have all their material needs met; they have plenty to eat, plenty to give away, plenty to live life as they please. So too there are many, many believers whose lives appear as failures because they struggle with poverty, lack and deprivation. Neither situation in life determines whether or not that person is a success or a failure.
I know of hundreds if not thousands of men and women of God, called, chosen, anointed and doing the will of the Father yet struggling constantly with the question "if I were truly in the will of God, why are things not going better for me?" If you've been in the Christian community very long surely you have heard the term "where God guides, He provides". Though this statement is true if people have not learned to appropriate or find the provision, does not mean they are not being guided by God. YOU CAN BE IN THE WILL OF GOD, PLEASING GOD AS YOU ANSWER HIS CALL TO MINISTER TO OTHERS AND STILL BE MISSING HIS PERFECT WILL FOR YOUR OWN LIFE. I have witnessed many turn away from God's call because they measure their success by whether or not they are adequately or abundantly provided for financially. And it always grieves me.
Just as Kathryn Kuhlman, an anointed minister of the gospel in the healing of others lived with frequent disease; and Smith Wigglesworth, mighty apostle of God who raised the dead and moved with signs and wonders so powerfully in the lives of others, struggled with physical suffering in his own body for many years. God did not look at Rev. Kuhlman or Rev. Wigglesworth as 'failures' or 'outside His will'. He looked with mercy and compassion because He knew that they were each struggling to obtain the knowledge that would enable them to each receive His perfect will for their bodies. He was perfecting all things that concerned them in the process of their coming to know Him more. Thank God that in the midst of their personal trials and tribulations they did not quit! Thank God that in spite of their own difficulties they continued to stand in faith and in knowledge of their call!
We must not ever measure our success in ministry by the struggles of our own lives or even the struggles we face in the ministry. A lack of money to complete the task of God's assignment DOES NOT MEAN we missed God! It means we must continue to seek His face for each step of our perfection process.
Jesus said that He came to do the will of His Father. That is what you and I as children of God are doing ~ it is our only goal; to do the will of the Father. Jesus also said that "I can of My own self do nothing". This truth must dwell in power within us as well. Our only ability to do the will of the Father is when we acknowledge our complete inability to anything in and of ourselves. Jesus had a specific call "to the Lost Sheep of Israel". Jesus was not called to a world wide ministry, though through His obedience to God, the entire world was immediately affected, both past, present and future. Jesus did not look the part of a successful minister. He did not look like the 'King' that God had promised through the voices of His prophets. Jesus did not seek fame, though His fame spread throughout the entire world. Jesus did not seek to build a huge successfully ministry with thousands of members, dozens of staff, a beautiful temple that outshone all others nor any other symbol of success that we tend to measure the success of our own ministry or the ministry of another to. Jesus came to teach 12 chosen men of God how to reach the world with the light and the truth of God's salvation. Jesus fled from the crowds. Jesus shunned the spotlight. Jesus never took an offering. Jesus never built a building.
Jesus success is defined totally by His obedience to God no matter what the people of that day liked or disliked. No matter what people asked Him to do, He refused to please people. Even when Peter came up with the good idea that Jesus avoids the cross, Jesus rebuked him rather than coddle him. We must not let anyone with good intentions influence us. We must never compare our ministry to any one else's. If God has not told you to build a church and have Sunday morning services and Tuesday morning bible studies and Wednesday night prayer, then you should not be doing these things. Too many have fallen into the trap of assumptions and presumptions and are thus very unhappy and very disillusioned in their attempts to minister. A church at Colosse sprang up through the ministry of Paul the Apostle in Ephesus. Paul wrote a letter to them that later became known as the Book of Colossians in our Bible. More than any other New Testament book, Colossians focuses on the twofold truth of Christ's preeminence and the believer's completeness IN HIM. Paul sums up the teachings of Jesus to His disciples in the last chapters of the Book of John. Jesus is the Son of God. We too are the Sons of God. Everything that Jesus was on the earth, so too are we. Everything that Jesus did, we too will do. Everything God did through Jesus, God will do through us. Yet this body of believers in Colosse was being taught deception based on traditions, pagan philosophy and presumptions.
Paul defines success in this exhortation as a life grounded in the complete sufficiency of Jesus Christ. This alone is the only way to progress in Christian living. Paul stressed the true nature of new life in Christ and its demand on the believer. If you are struggling today for truth as to whether or not you are pleasing to God and whether or not you are in His perfect will, reading the book of Colossians with the Holy Spirit being allowed to minister to you, will give you tremendous freedom to walk in the light, even as He is in the light.
Joshua received a promise from God concerning success. "Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous! Be careful to obey the law … do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book depart out of your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. THEN you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:6-8
We don't operate under the Law of Moses today, since Jesus fulfilled that law. But the terms of our success as defined by the same commandment that God gave to Joshua. "Be strong no matter what! Be courageous as you minister to others! Obey God's Words both written and spoken to you by His Holy Spirit. Be careful to do everything He has told you to do! Then you will be prosperous and successful!
Living the "American Dream" is not success. Suffering lack does not mean 'failure'. Trusting God means we never have an exit route. We never have a "plan b" that places our trust in our own sufficiency because we feel that God has failed to provide.
The children of Israel went from complete bondage under the rule of Pharaoh to complete freedom as they headed out across the Sinai toward the Promised Land, about 200 miles away. The Israelites were ecstatic with joy as they heard the Words of God "dwelling in houses you did not build", "harvesting crops from fields you did not plant", "dwelling in safety free from enemies". Etc. With their pockets lined by the riches of Egypt, they confidently marched in freedom toward the promise. But when it got a little rough on them - the monotony of the desert, the monotony of the food, the monotony of a hot, dry march without fun, excitement and other sensory stimulants, they began to murmur and complain. They began to doubt. Even though EVERY NEED WAS BEING MET SUPERNATURALLY and the very presence of God was manifested both day and night, they were discontent! They became bitter about their present circumstances. They wanted to be in the Promised Land NOW! It was just too hard, too far and they grew impatient for fulfillment of God's promises. "Why have you brought us out into this wilderness to die?" they accused Moses and Aaron. They even wanted to turn back again to captivity - they were so deceived by the lusts of their flesh that the cruelty of their Egyptians taskmasters seemed better than the presence of God and the complete freedom they were now given. Forging through the wilderness - the hard times - just wasn't worth the effort or the wait. Out of the hundreds of thousands who were living in the midst of a miracle, only Joshua and Caleb continued to believe God. Huge odds are against you today. Oh we modern day people look with amazement at these sensual people with a harsh judgment concerning their lack of faith and vision. How could they possibly have turned against God so quickly? Yes most people of God today will turn back again into captivity, refusing to believe that they are led by God, but weakly determining that their hardship could not possibly be God.
In the Hall of Faith chapter of Hebrews 11; written about the hero's and heroines IN GOD'S SIGHT, it says "all these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth." The promise that they believed for is what we have already received ~ Jesus Christ, the Messiah, our Savior. What a grievous thing to this "great cloud of witnesses" as they see most of God's chosen leaders today, turn back from their wilderness, returning to the captivity of self-sufficiency rather than press forward to the land of God's sufficiency. Will you once again hear His voice? Will you write your vision and keep it before you continually so that you will not be moved from fulfilling it? Will you deny your flesh the worldly lusts, learning from the things you are suffering? Will you truly trust God's love and God's supply? He will not disappoint you!
I know from experience how hard it is to persevere under hardship. I know what it is like to obey God no matter what the cost to my flesh. Though I and my household never went hungry our needs were not met according to the lifestyles of the successful. In fact, by the judgment of my government economists we were living below poverty. Yet we were not poor but very rich! Unity, peace, joy, satisfaction, love and wisdom flowed freely to and through our lives. I wish I could assure you that it was a quick work - but at least it wasn't forty years! We refused to turn back just because it wasn't easy. We refused to turn to the right or to the left. We remained strong and very courageous. And because of that, God has made our way prosperous and crowned our lives with success. We passed the test of trusting God even when it seemed like we had missed Him. Even when it seemed that everyone around us was being blessed while we were forgotten. We were determined to follow God - to obey Him - no matter where that path took us. "It is better, in doing God's will, to suffer for doing good then to (reject God's will) and do evil". First Peter 3:17
Obedience to God is the reason why the blessings of God rest upon our lives. This is why God uses this ministry so powerfully around the world. This is why we are able to help nations in times of great trouble, giving answers, supplying wisdom, bring complete and total changes into the lives of all these that God has given to us to lead.
It is no longer I that lives, but Christ Who lives in me. "Therefore since Christ suffered (temptations, persecutions, sorrow) in His body, arm yourselves with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. And as a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God." I Peter 4:2-3
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed." I Peter 4:19
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. … Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." I Peter 5:1-7
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he HAS and DOES - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away but the man who does the will of God, lives forever." I John 2:15-17
Proverbs chapter three is a great end to this teaching. I won't type it all out but encourage you to get your bible and meditate on this Word of God.
Take these words to heart and meditate on them, searching the scriptures to judge the truths herein, allowing the Holy Spirit to work truth in you, to the renewing of your mind. Find rest for your soul. Have a light and easy week as you accomplish great things for His Kingdom!