Christians and the Fear of Success

A lot of Christians are afraid of success, especially in the vocational ministry setting. Even outside of that, in a secular job setting, people are scared of it for some reason. Yet I look at Christ's example and see Him dripping with ambition. He was out to change the world. So it is most certainly possible to be out to change the world, or be successful, and still be meek and humble. This is a dichotomy that most Christians don't understand, yet they aren't actually mutually exclusive. I am convinced that you can be even more effective in your witness with success just as in how you handle failure. I was recently promoted last year in my job in the Navy. I am now a Chief Petty Officer. I wanted that position (rank), I worked hard to get it, and I maintained my integrity while getting there. Now, I have an entirely new group of people to minister to and even witness to,  just ask my fellow Chief Petty Officers.

It works, but you can't be afraid of success. 

As I mentioned earlier, being successful doesn't mean you can't lead with humility, or be a servant leader. Again, using my military career as an example, I can say that I have done this. One of my strengths in both ministry and in the Navy is mentoring. I was taught by good mentors in this art and I know a fair amount about it. I'm not the best, but I'm blessed in my efforts. It may seem ironic (although it isn't), but by mentoring younger, less experienced sailors, I have actually furthered my career. Making sure that my sailors are cared for increases my influence and my net worth to my superiors, thus adding to my success.

I did not become someone else in order to get this success, nor have I seen great numbers follow me. What I have seen is some people saved, many grow in their faith, careers changed for the better, and my own success as a blessed byproduct.

Maybe most importantly when discussing success and Christianity though, I want to follow a born leader…someone who is successful. And I want people to follow me because they can see that I am good at what I do. Don't be afraid of success. Push forward and bear it out!

4 comments:

boilt frog said...

"He was out to change the world." He succeeded. See Jn. 6, especially vss. 35-40. Compare vss. 60-70 with I Cor.1:26-31

blessing, bf

Dan Smith said...

Blessings to you as well. I did review your verses, and you do make good points. However, with regard to the comments you quoted, they don't really apply. I know that sounds harsh, me saying that scripture doesn't apply to something. You, I believe, showed that we shouldn't boast in anything but Christ (presumably, in the stead of our own success), and that Christ lost a multitude of "followers."

However, empirical data would suggest that Jesus actually did change the world. Entire regions of the world call him Lord and millions follow him today. I grant that we may not see the success in our lifetime, as he apparently didn't (although I disagree), but we can work to be successful. See John 13:15. Would someone who was failing offer an example? And I Cor 11:1. Again, why follow the example of a failure?

Dan Smith said...

From Facebook:

I'm on my phone, so this is easier. No, it's utterly ridiculous to have any association with being unsuccessful: guilt, being a proper Christian, or otherwise. You can't help those in need if you're in need yourself. What if the Samaritan didn't have money to pay for the injured man's room and board and health visits? It's just awful to think that you need to be poor to be good. Poor in spirit, not poor in wealth. Job and Abraham were incredibly wealthy.

boilt frog said...

Jn. 6 shows us that Jesus did not fail. V. 39: This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. The point of referring to Jn. 6:60-70 is to show that what is outward does not necessarily reflect success by the divine standard. The I Cor. reference explains why. (There are many other text, e.g., Jn.10:26)

The abandonment of the crowd in Jn.6 doesn't indicate defeat. It shows the success of the divine plan. Jesus is the second Adam. He will do what the first Adam did not: obtain the victory for His people. John 6 is very complex. Study it well. 1:10-13 must first be thoroughly understood before attempting ch.6 (or 10). I find ch. 6 the most difficult in Jn., the book I find most difficult.

Consider also Paul's struggles 2Cor. 16-31. This is not the record of earthly victory.

Blessings again, BF

ps. good "luck" on ch. 5. It is the one I work on when I don't feel up to anything else in John.