Success - God’s Way vs Man’s Way
Our natural inclination is to help ourselves, to figure things out ourselves and to use our natural energy and effort to accomplish our goals.
God's word says:
So, humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honour. 1 Peter 5:6 NLT
This scripture is always a timely reminder that our elevation and accomplishments are given to us by God. This method of success via humility is unlikely to be found in the self-help, 'get rich quick', 'do it yourself', 'millionaire-maker' books. This scripture pointedly says that God himself is responsible for and is vital to our achievements. He puts things in place to move us from where we are, to success and honour.
Submitting our lives to Christ is a critical prerequisite for a heart posture of humility; we must submit to His leading and direction. THEN at the right time HE will exalt us. However, it’s this “right time” with which many of us struggle, which then drives many to the self-help methods. “God is taking too long”, “He isn’t interested in that part of my life”, “God helps those who help themselves”. Have you ever heard any of these from persons who have taken the attainment of their success into their own hands? The last phrase is popular in the Caribbean context, taken from the book of “Dih Ole People Say” Chapter 1, Verse 1.
Yes, your success is likely to be built on the back of effort and hard work, because elevation is not magic. However, it is not solely the effort and hard work that the world typically associates with success. This effort is in fact obedience to God that is wrapped up in endurance and founded in the assurance that God is the author and director of our path to success.
Because God cannot be manipulated, our surrender should not be one of convenience, merely to achieve a particular result. It must be a total surrender of our heart, body, mind and soul, our entire life. This type of submission puts the will of God for your life before any desire that you have for yourself. Your obedience to Him and your commitment to walk in His way, fulfils God’s purpose for you and since He is a good God, who desires to pour out good things to you, He will increase and elevate you on your journey of obedience.
The scripture that says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) comes to mind and is one of my favourites. We know that God desires to pour out his goodness and faithfulness upon us; giving us good gifts because he cares for us. He does not want us to be tangled up with the cares of self-sustenance. God is saying, come to me, trust me and let me take care of you. Not just for food and clothing, but I will promote you and cause you to succeed at whatever I have called you to do. Your success is God’s responsibility, not your own. He is a jealous God; He shares his glory with no one and when a person tries to exalt him/herself, there is no glory to God in that method.
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NLT
In the verses that preceded Luke 14:11, Jesus admonished his hearers that trying to elevate yourself is no true honour. Honour comes from the host. The recognition must be from the one who is “ultimately important”. As God is ultimately important, He should be the one to recognise, reward and honour you. We should not be eager to demonstrate to others our importance. We ought instead, to daily lay our lives before God and do our work to the glory of God. When God exalts you - as the one who ultimately is deserving of honour - you will not feel insecure, neither will you feel compelled to do anything inappropriate, to maintain this status. Simply because, the promotion had little to do with you and everything to do with God.
But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another. (Psalm 75:7)
Many persons believe that God is not necessary to achieve success and may point to several notoriously successful people who are not believers. These persons often credit ‘hard work’, dedication, chance or affiliations for their achievements. However, I truly believe that “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens”. (James 1:17) Additionally, God’s presence with us guarantees our success, not just in the earthly realm but also our spirit in eternity. Check the accounts of Joseph, David, Solomon, Abraham and Esther in the bible and know that God will cause us to succeed in this life. However, He wants our souls secure in eternity first. God first, everything else after.
Persons who seek to exalt themselves focus on self, but those who humble themselves under God’s love, focus on God and His ability to cause them to excel. Humility gives a sober understanding that God is my source, He is supreme, omniscient, in control of all things and is the owner of all things and all riches. It is God who knows what is best for me, it is He who provides, and I will trust in and wait on Him.
Let the one who is ultimately worthy of honour and glory, be the one to exalt you. Humbly abide in His presence, under His mighty hand and be led by Him.
In these times, we are flooded with invitations to follow, subscribe and to purchase the ‘how to succeed’ manuals. However, the eternal holy manuscript is still supreme. It provides life transforming advice for your success in two simple lines:
So, humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honour. 1 Peter 5:6 NLT
I agree that many of the ‘how to succeed’ books contain useful advice. However, my elevation will always be orchestrated, endorsed and led by God. I prefer to be in His will and exalted in His timing; for what He has established, no man can remove.