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The Missing Message in the Success Gospel

Many people today are looking for the next secret to success. Countless books are written on “success” principles. Even I have studied these topics thoroughly. We are buying books by the dozens, subscribing to e-blasts, and even hiring a coach or two. As much as I have learned from these venues, I feel that one message is predominately missing from the success gospel.

Frankly, I believe that what most people are preaching about is actually not success at all, but rather achievement.  At first blush, these two terms may seem practically synonymous, but there is, in fact, a marked difference between the two. Remember back to Geometry class when we learned that a square was a rectangle, but that not all rectangles are squares?  The concept is similar here. If you are successful, then by definition, you have had and will continue to have achievements, but simply having achievements is not enough to garnish success for us.

Think of it this way:

”For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”[1]

Consider Solomon, (richest and wisest man in past or present times) who said of his achievements,

”Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, 

everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;

nothing was gained under the sun.”[2]

How many of us have worked to hard to climb the Ladder of Achievement (LOA) thinking that success was at the top, only to find that success isn’t found summiting a ladder at all, but rather, it’s found on road? You don’t need to get to the proverbial top to be successful; once you have found the Road of Success (ROS), you are successful, no matter your position on your journey. The good news is that whether you are at the “top” of the achievement ladder, feeling disappointed, disillusioned, and depressed, or if you are on one of the lower rungs, and realize it’s not leading you to your ultimate goal, it’s easy (and wise) jump off the ladder on to the ROS.

We’ve talked about the differences between success and achievement, but what is the definition of success? True success is knowing the One who created us and living in the manner He created us to live and finding love, purpose, peace, and fulfillment on The Way. Without this relationship, true success, lasting peace and fulfillment, (which I and many others had set out to find, on the LOA) cannot be found.

I have, at times, found myself on the Ladder instead of the Road. And Achievement does give its temporary glory and recognition. I know what it is like to try and prove that I could try to do it on my own, apart from God. Sometimes, I have been just like a four-year old saying, “I can do it myself, God.” But I found I couldn’t do it alone. Through experience, God has taught me, ”apart from me [Jesus] you can do nothing.”[3](My brackets added.) It’s easy to have the Tower of Babel mentality of wanting to achieve greatness and fame apart from God, but let me share from Solomon’s experience, in the end, it all becomes “vanity.” And isn’t that insightful, since it is our vanity, our pursuit of vainglory, that gets us into the frivolous expedition in the first place?

The cool thing is that it is not to late to change course. Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit”[4] Also He said ”I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”[5] He encourages us to find out that, ”with God all things are possible.”[6] So you see, only in God through Jesus, is real and lasting success possible for all of us. Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only Way to genuine and everlasting success. I hope you will become an instant success today!


[1] Matthew 16:26, New King James Version (NKJV)

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+16:26&version=NKJV

[2] Ecclesiastes 2:11,New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Eccl%202:11&version=NIV

[3] John 15:5, New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+15:5&version=NIV

[4] See footnote 3.

[5] John 10:10. New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. http://nasb.scripturetext.com/john/10.htm

[6] Matthew 19:26 New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. http://nasb.scripturetext.com/matthew/19.htm

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Commitment to Chronicle

I love to learn and write. Why is it that I and so many others don’t take the time to record our thoughts throughout the day? Many of us have not been taught to do it; it was not modeled for us. But my mother did journal, so that excuse it out for me. Maybe it’s because “journaling” is seen as something junior high age girls do on t.v. Maybe it’s because a diary is visualized as some sort of fantasy wish book.  But I don’t think that is my biggest obstacle.  Whether valid, or not, I have not scheduled it in my calendar as a priority, until now… Like many high achievers, I do spend time reading and reflecting each day both for growth and giving potential.  But, why keep the majority of thoughts in my head?  Perhaps writing my ideas down (not just the big ones) will mimic a brainstorming session where God can inspire a gold mine of action altering ideas.  If journaling can do that for me, what about you? Whether we blog our ideas publicly for other people’s benefit or keep them secluded in a book, the venture will surely help us process, sort, create, and dream. Will you join me in my commitment to chronicle? If so, leave me a comment below. Let’s do it together!