I have a confession to make. I’m prideful. I know, to those who know me, it’s probably not a big secret! But for a long time, it was a secret to me. I didn’t see it. In fact, I thought I was a pretty humble person. When you start thinking that, you’re probably in trouble!
My pride isn’t always obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle, under the surface, barely detectable, but like termites eating away at the frame of a house, it’s there, slowly destroying me.
As I’ve struggled with the definition of success and what success means in my life, I’ve come back again and again to the subject of pride. As God has helped me fix my eyes on him and his plans for my life, I’ve realized that he’s intentionally allowed me to NOT achieve worldly success. It’s hard enough for me to be humble now. Imagine how bad it would be if I were a best-selling author of multiple books with people asking for my autograph!
Sometimes God allows us to be “failures” by the world’s standards because he’s much more concerned with our hearts. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matt 16:26) He has an eternal perspective, and he’s not impressed by our worldly accomplishments.
Think about that: God would rather have you fail at everything, but have the humility to seek him than for you to be the greatest in the world and never see your need for him. That turns our definitions of success upside down!
Maybe someday God will be able to publish my writing without me getting prideful, thinking I’m wonderful and talented, and my hard work has brought this success. Maybe I’ll just always be a “closet” writer and only a few close friends and family will enjoy my work. My greatest prayer is no longer to find success and fulfillment, but rather for God to only give me what will bring me and others closer to him. If that means I always fail, that I can wallpaper my house in rejection letters, so be it.
“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deut. 8:11-14)