What is Success?

I don’t relish in failure. Instead, I turn away from it, whenever I get the chance.

I suppose it was how I was raised. Possibly it’s because I feel failure to be too negative. Or maybe it’s because I have tendency to want to maximize my strengths and downplay my weaknesses. I am not completely sure.

In light of that, it’s helpful to be reminded at times of what success looks like for the True Christian (one who is already born-again):

  1. Do we try to love God, as best as we can?
  2. Do we attempt to live a life of thankfulness to God, trust in God and honor for God?
  3. Do we try to love people, as much as we can?
  4. Do we try to listen to the Spirit; pray accordingly and then live joyfully?
  5. Are we quick to repent when the Spirit reveals our sins, and never give up?

If yes, then we succeed at life.

I mention this since we can easily lose sight of true success and failure; which can mean that our priorities get out of whack. Because when we do the things listed above, then we don’t have to worry about hardly anything else.

Here are some things that DO NOT define success or failure for Christians, as long as we are practicing the above five points. We do not base our success or failure on:

  • The condition of our finances
  • The size of our homes and possessions
  • The people who rule our cities, regions and nations
  • Persecution, hardship, travail, sickness
  • Painful relationships
  • Whether people like us
  • The results of our prayers
  • Our own daily happiness
  • Righteousness or godlessness that is outside our sphere of influence
  • The safety of our grown children

Some might ask why I included the last item. Well, remember, God calls some people to be martyrs. Of course, no parent is likely to pray that for their children. But even Mary had to accept that fact that God called her son, Jesus, to die in the prime of his life. It still happens today. And martyrs are successful in life.

So, do not worry about the size or condition of your possessions. Similarly, if your city or nation is civically rejecting Christianity and even resorting to persecution of the Church, it does not mean you have failed; even if you are a leader and/or intercessor. Sometimes God wants widespread sin to proliferate in order to poise a people to hear his eventual call to repentance.

This is where we need to have wisdom, and we must rely on the Spirit. See, it is easy to pray for what the Bible prescribes and to pray against what the Bible forbids. But sometimes God is doing something different that we might easily misinterpret.


Let me give you an example in the realm of intercession. A friend of mine is a Christian and practices the five points at the top. However, she found herself in a bit of a conundrum not long ago. She had been asked by some friends to pray about something—which they said was SO important and world changing, etc, etc. In sincerity, she actually prayed and fasted for a number of days. The result? Exactly opposite of how she was praying. She naturally was so discouraged! I mean, it’s like, what’s the point? And honestly it made her “gun-shy” the next time a prayer request was issued from that same source. But she had to take some time and ask herself was she still successful, despite the apparent results of her prayers? Well, using the five items above, of course she was. So, then, why was she disappointed? The reason was because she assumed she knew the result and how she should pray, based on what her friend told her. But the problem is that she had not really ALSO inquired after the Spirit.

I understand this can be difficult at times. Jesus told us to pray, “May your Kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Therefore, when we see something that is clearly not in alignment with the will of God, our temptation is to quickly pray against it. And often that is likely the correct response. However, not always. We must first ask the Spirit how we are to understand. Just think of the plagues on Egypt. If an intercessor had started to pray for Pharaoh’s repentance and an end to the plagues—after only the first one—they would have been sorely disappointed. For as we know with hindsight, God wanted to send many more plagues, and did.

To cut closer to home, what if a friend asks you to pray for his sick wife? Well, naturally you would likely pray for healing and speedy recovery. But what if you later pray about it alone, and the Spirit reveals to you that God is about to call her home to heaven? Would you still pray for her to be healed? Maybe instead you would pray for your friend to be comforted in his eventual loss, and that she would glorify God with her remaining days. But if you had never inquired of the Spirit, then you could later feel that your prayers were never answered, since despite your intercession for healing, she died.

This is why it is so crucial that we walk in step with the Spirit, even when Christians might try to tell us “what God wants,” etc. In such cases, we have to be careful that we do not only hear what they personally want. We also need wisdom to listen and observe the world around us, as if with a Holy Spirit filter.

That still does not mean we will never experience a sense of failure. But even if we do, so what? I mean, the amazing thing about failing is that it leads us back to God when we repent.

© 2019, Alignment Life

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