The standard for success

How often do we long to hear “Well done” or “Good job”? When I was young, I didn’t particularly enjoy school, but I loved getting a “Well Done”, “Great Work”, or “Keep it up!” stamp from my teacher. It was something that motivated me to work! If we’re honest with ourselves, the echoes of approval and encouragement fuel our yearning for success. Whether from our parents, teachers, bosses or peers; the affirmation of a job well done resonates throughout our lives. 

The Bible teaches that God has placed within us a longing for success, but our world’s view of success is very different from God’s view of success.

The world sees achievements, wealth, and power as the ultimate markers of success. We often judge ourselves and others by what we have, whether it’s our education, career, or lifestyle. We let the approval of others and material possessions dictate the world’s definition of a successful life.

The Bible does not condemn all forms of worldly success. Think of Joseph. He was Pharaoh’s right-hand man, who was used to save Israel during the famine in Egypt. Or Esther, who was the Queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus and was used to save God’s people from the evil Haman. God can use his people in positions of power and influence for his redemptive purposes. The key lies in recognising that worldly success, while not inherently sinful, can become a trap. The Bible warns us against the temptations of wealth and power (Mark 4:19), because these things have the potential to reshape our priorities and practices according to the world’s standards.

True biblical success is rooted in faithful obedience to God

So, what is God’s standard for success? True biblical success is rooted in faithful obedience to God, empowered by His Spirit, motivated by His love, and directed toward the advancement of His Kingdom. It’s about aligning our hearts with God’s will and seeking His glory rather than our own. It focuses on that which is eternal rather than on that which is temporary. Jesus himself teaches us to store up our treasure in heaven because where our treasure is, our heart is also (Matt. 6:19-21).

Think of the prophet Jeremiah. If you judge his ministry by worldly standards, it looked like an abject failure. No one repented in response to his teaching, there was no spiritual revival, everyone around him rejected him, his enemies mocked him, plotted to kill him, and threw him in prison. Yet even though he saw no fruit from his labour, in the eyes of God he was a success, because of his faithful obedience to God.

The desire for success is not inherently wrong. But how do you measure success? Ask yourself, “Am I seeking to build God’s Kingdom or my own? Is my standard for success being faithful to God and growing in holiness, or is it building a list of accomplishments and furnishing an impressive lifestyle?”. As we await the return of Jesus, may we remain faithful to Him so that one day we would hear our Saviour say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23a).

Media & Communications Manager