(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Tim Keller entitled, Counterfeit Gods.
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
How do you define success? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do you know when you have achieved it?
Success can be as simple as fixing a flat tire for the first time. Success can be getting an A on your first test of the year. Success can be simply getting out of bed. Success comes at the expense of some energy and effort.
Success isn’t a bad thing.
However, what can make a good thing, like success, become an ultimate thing that becomes a counterfeit god?
Perhaps at some point in your life you have seen a celebrity on TV, a professional athlete, or a prominent business leader and wished out loud or silently, “I wish I had their success.” Our inner desire to be successful leads us to wish for the outcome of success – money, fame, followers.
Yet, we don’t always know the backstory.
In this week’s message I shared a video clip of professional gymnast, Shawn Johnson. After competing in the 2004 Olympics, she was favored to win four golds at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. As she reflects on her years of practice, countless competitions and pursuit of Olympic gold, she share that pursuit of this success meant tremendous sacrifice and a realization that perhaps the cost of success was not worth it.
Three themes came out of this reflection that are indicators that tell us if the good thing of success is becoming an ultimate thing in our life. Take some time to reflect on each of these. If any or all are true for you and your pursuit of life’s goals and dreams, you may be falling to the seduction of success.
Here’s the three:
- Success seduces me to endure pressure and lose my peace.
If what I am pursuing is causing me to lose peace in my heart and carry anxiousness, worry, and tension, I may be being seduced by success. Sure some level of pressure comes when we are striving and working hard, but if I am never finding peace as I working hard on a goal, my heart is being pulled in the wrong direction.
- Success seduces me to please others before pleasing God.
Am I always worried about what other people will think or say? Do I notice my relationships are based on how well I am performing? Do I friendships that come when I succeed and flit away when I fail? Am I constantly finding myself asking, “What will __________ think?” Perhaps I am falling to the seduction of success that leads to please others before God.
- Success seduces me to be someone I’m not instead of who God made me to be.
Success can drive us to act in a way that leads us to move away from our integrity, break our morals, and act in a way that is not loving or honest. If you begin to hear people comment, “I don’t know who you are anymore. You just aren’t the same as you were before you were successful. “ Perhaps the truth is success is seducing you to think, act and be as someone you aren’t. Success should come not at the expense of giving up who you are, but being all God has made you to be.
Jesus’ words are for you (all of us): (Luke 9:25)
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?“
What good is it? None.
Journey with these devotions this week to see how one can keep God at the center of our hearts and lives AND still be successful!
Apply: Take some time today to reflect on these seductions of success. Is Satan using one or all of them to lure your heart away from God to pursue success at all costs?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant us honesty of perspective to repent of our empty pursuit of success and reorient our hearts to pursue success in the way you define it. AMEN.