Commentary: God’s view of success different than the world’s idea


George Barnard Shaw said, “There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want; the other is getting it.”

America is obsessed with success. We work hard to get what we want. From the early days of our youth, competing is encouraged to reach number one, whether it’s winning the spelling bee or ranking at the top of our class. Setting our minds on a goal and pressing until we reach that goal makes us a success, we think. Success is a destination.

Or, in our consumer-minded society, we think success is accumulation. He who has the most and best toys wins. We kill ourselves to make six figures, to climb the ladder to more power and influence, and to accumulate more than the next guy.

John Maxwell in The Success Journey shared while thumbing through Success magazine several years ago, saw a Gallup study on what people thought success looked like. Their answers fell into twelve categories, but the number one answer was good health. Fifty-eight percent identified good health with success over anything else. Good health is desirable, but is good health the ultimate measurement of success? (Maxwell, The Success Journey, p. 1).

Three businessmen were comparing their thoughts on what it meant to be successful. “I’d say I had arrived,” said the first, “if I were summoned to the White House for a private, personal meeting with the president of the United States.”

“To me,” said the second man, “success would mean meeting with the president in the oval office, having the hotline ring during our talk, and watching the president ignore it.”

The third said, “I think you’re a success if you’re privately consulting with the president, the hotline rings, he picks it up, and says, ‘It’s for you.’”

How do you define success? How does God define success?  The Bible defines success in two ways that are much different than a worldly definition of success

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:1 and 2, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”

Paul saw himself as Christ’s subordinate, a servant, and he viewed himself as a steward entrusted to manage something valuable for someone else. He said stewards must be found faithful. How does one measure faithfulness? In church life, is faithfulness showing up and being present? Is it legalistically following rules with insincere motives?

Faithfulness is demonstrated by loyalty and dedication to the Lord, by obedience to the Lord, and by perseverance. Faithful servants place God first and show total commitment by trusting and obeying God throughout the entire course of their life.

Pastor Joseph Stowell wrote, “The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit.

Faithfulness is running all the way to the finish line with the flame of my torch still lit for Jesus.

The Bible also measures success by fruitfulness. God produces at least three kinds of fruit in our lives when we continuously submit to Him.

First is the fruit of Christian character. Galatians 5:22-23 states our lives should be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Are these qualities present in your life?

Recently, I was in the grocery store and a complete strangerapproached me and asked, “Are you the Perdue Chicken man?” This is not the first time I’ve been asked this question.

I answered, “No, but I wish I had his money.”

She said, “That’s okay. I don’t like his chicken anyway” and turned around and walked off.

I don’t want to resemble the Perdue Chicken man. I want my life to look like Jesus. What about you?

Second is the fruit of Christian conduct. Right character results in right conduct. Not only must we look like Jesus; we must act like Jesus.  Ask, “What would Jesus do in this situation?”

Third is the fruit of converts. God wants us to take as many people with us to heaven as possible. Proverbs 11:30 reads, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”

How are you doing with your faithfulness? With your fruitfulness? God’s view of success is a journey of faithfulness and fruitfulness.


David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. View worship online at See more of Chancey’s writings at