How to be successful in life......

I recently finished a study on the book of Judges. I learned so much and saw more of Christ than I ever have while studying an Old Testament book. It doesn't take many chapters to realize that the Israelites have a pattern problem. They follow their own reasoning and sinful desires only to find themselves enslaved by an enemy nation. They cry out to God and He raises up a rescuer who delivers them. They are so relieved to have their freedom back that it isn't long until they turn back to their false gods and selfish ways.

It's easy to shake my head at the Israelites of the Old Testament. I mean, goodness, can't they see that this pattern of behavior is destructive and damaging to their faith?

I think if we're brutally honest with ourselves, though, we would find that we have very similar patterns in our faith as well. For example here's mine when it comes to blogging......

Step 1: I just love this blogging thing! I can share about what God's teaching me and it's so fun to write, etc.........

Step 2: Wait! There's a podcast on how to grow my audience? If 10 followers are good, then 1,000 must be even better, right? If I do this one simple thing, I'll see my subscribers increase dramatically? So, posting on certain days only is the real way to gain online traffic? You get the idea, my blog and it's growth becomes an idol.

Step 3: The pressure of performance and living up to my idol's expectations begins to enslave me. I feel depressed and unable to measure up. I cry out to God! I'm doing all the right things with my blogging and writing but everyone else beside me seems to be succeeding!

Step 4: Sigh, I think I'll just give up blogging. There are so many other people that can do it more successfully than me! I'm sure God wants me to be focusing on something better.

Step 5: A random person (who I didn't even know read my blog) encourages me that God is using my feeble efforts to encourage them and remind them of the gospel.

Step 1: I just love this blogging thing! I can share about what God's teaching me and it's so fun to write, etc......

Continue cycle......

Seriously, this pattern has occurred at least 5-6 times in the last few years! It hit me yesterday that I have the same cycle issue that the nation of Israel struggled with.You see, my definition of success has been wrong. Just like the Israelites, I've looked to the world's definition for my worth and identity.
It might not be blogging for you, but it may be a myriad of other things like your home business, marriage, ministry, friendships, or even motherhood.

We believe the lie that success is having followers, attention, money, even good feelings all of which almost immediately become dangerous idols in our camp. They enslave and abuse leaving us feeling hopeless at the end of the day.

We cry out to God who lovingly and mercifully rescues us from ourselves yet again and we run right back to the idols our souls crave.

What we forget (or possibly refuse to remember) is that God's definition of success is measured by something that was already finished 2000 years ago. Death and sin was already defeated. His Son triumphed over the grave. His Spirit is alive and well working in this still sin-tainted world.

True success is defined, not by what we do, but by what has already been done by Christ.
Numbers and notoriety are never the true definition of a successful endeavor.

Consider Colossians 2:13-15:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
That, my friends is a true success story!