Are you struggling with ‘suck-cess’?
- Suck-cess n. The point at which you reach the 99 percentile in your career, then realize the gulf between 99 and 100 percent is as gaping as 1-99 percent.
Are struggling with suck-cess?
Let me give you a personal example. Sales of The Imitation of Christ have reached the 99.98 percentile. In other words, it’s selling more copies than nearly every book in all the books in all the brick and mortar stores and on amazon.com! I should be doing my happy dance. Right?!
And yet, it’s not considered a successful book until it gets closer to 99.999999999 percent. And only one handful of books per year will sell a million copies—or even 100,000 copies.
It’s probably the same in your line of work.
As I was struggling with my suck-cess, suddenly God began bombarding me from all directions. In less than a week, these voices were speaking to me:
- We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49).
Steve Addison is a highly successful church-planter, author and leader of a large mission organization, but . . .
Eight years ago . . . Addison felt the wheels coming off the wagon. He’d struggled with depression throughout his life and had learned to manage it well, but as he reached his fifties, he began to feel like he’d undershot the vision he’d once had for his life:.
Steve [told CT], “I’m saying to [my psychiatrist] ‘In terms of legacy and purpose, I feel like my life’s over. I’m not going to do anything silly, but my worst fear is I could live another 30 years and have no purpose, have no legacy. I don’t need success; I just need to achieve what God put on my heart and to see his will done personally in the ministry.’
“[My psychiatrist] just looked at me and said, ‘Who guarantees you a legacy? Who guarantees you a purpose? Where did you get that from?’ He reaches into the drawer of his desk and pulls out a pocket New Testament and starts reading me verses about the love of God. He said, ‘This is all you got. This is all you can claim.’
“[So] here I am confronted with feeling like my life will achieve no lasting purpose as far as I can understand, so what have I got left? I’ve got the love of God.”
[You hoped] that the Big Dream would have happened, that the peace and the purpose and the Big Point would be under your skin, that the awkward would be gone and that you’d finally fit and that your life made a real difference, you’d made a real mark, and that you really mattered.
Your most meaningful work in the Kingdom may not be the big things you do—but the one little person you love.
A. W. Tozer
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Indeed it may be truthfully said that everything of lasting value in the Christian life is unseen and eternal. Things seen are of little real significance in the light of God’s presence. He pays small attention to the beauty of a woman or the strength of a man. With Him the heart is all that matters. The rest of the life comes into notice only because it represents the dwelling place of the eternal being.
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
All of advertising is based on discontent!
How do we find contentment? Seek God not contentment!
(Watch her message Thirsty for Contentment)
And, from my own book—that is not as successful as I wish!
The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language
Whenever we desire success and prestige, we become restless. Proud and greedy people are never at peace, while the poor and humble of heart enjoy an abundance of peace. The person who is not completely dead to earthly affections is soon tempted and overcome by even small and trivial matters. It is hard for those who are weak in spirit and earthly-minded to overcome sensual desires. Therefore, when they are not indulging in worldly pleasures, they become sad and easily angered if anyone stands in the way of their desires.
Fortunately, when believers yield to these selfish inclinations, the Spirit immediately brings conviction to their conscience revealing that they have followed their own desires and not found the peace they had hoped to find.
Yep, I was bombarded!
I’m so grateful that God loves me enough to bring wiser voices to my hearing—and to use the words of Thomas à Kempis that I had modernized—to remind that meaning is not found in success, but only in being in a love relationship with him. And that is worthy of a happy dance!
Brennan Manning, in Abba’s Child, puts it well:
[M]ake the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself
radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.
You and I are loved . . . whether we’re a failure, a success or even a suck-cess!
Copyright © 2016 James N. Watkins
If you found this post hopeful and helpful, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!