So I struggle with treating success like an idol…what do I do now?
That is not really a question I thought I would be asking. It is, however, a reality I live with. A generally successful person can, in times of struggle, come face to face with an unhealthy priority they were unaware they had.
I want to clarify my use of idol here. I do not bow down and worship success. I simply allow it to come before God and anything that is before him is above him, and there is nothing or no one above him.
In Matthew 23:25-28 Jesus throws down some WOES to the religious leaders of his day. He tells them that they wash the outside of the cup and call it clean or that they whitewash tombs and pretend they are not filled with death. He teaches that it is not just the outside that must change but the inside, too. It is the root of the matter that musty change, not just the fruit of it.
So, how do I experience that? Here are some practical points from Matthew 23.
You might have a success idol if…
1. WHAT happens matters more than WHY it happened.
Does why matter to you at all about the things you hope to accomplish in life? Or is what you are striving for your only concern?
2. WHAT I am matters more than WHO I am.
When you deal with a success idol what you become trumps who you are. If you are not careful you can have an “everyone loves a winner” mentality towards life…which eventually causes you to act like a loser.
3. WHAT I do matters more than HOW I do it.
Do ends justify means? Winning at all costs comes at a very high price to everyone involved.
Burning a success idol requires…
1. Emptying the cup.
Emptying the cup means pouring it ALL out. Money is perhaps the best illustration of this. You are not faithful to God with money because you give a certain % at church. Every penny is his. You are not faithful to God without the % either, but that % is much easier to give when it is all his anyway.
2. Open the door.
The best way to clean out the stench of death is to open the door and let the light of truth in. Opening the door to your sins and struggles usually requires sharing the worst about your self with someone else. “Confess your sins one to another.” Are you?
3. Pray inside out.
Get to the root issue, don’t just treat the fruit.
4. Be what you are.
Jesus’ final illustration was a tomb. A tomb is a tomb. It is what it is. Often our greatest struggle with success is desiring to be what we are not…or the desire to not be what we are. Be what God made you.
The greatest truth we must all remember about our struggles with success is that Jesus is greater than our biggest failures. Give to Jesus your best. Give to Jesus your worst. And give him everything in between. You cannot give him one without the other.