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The Character of Success

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
The pursuit of the maximum utilization of our gifts, abilities, and talents.

Success is the pursuit of the maximum utilization of our gifts, abilities, and talents into the opportunities and situations we have been given. It is not about results, although results should be affected; rather, it is being obedient to Christ so our best is sought and accomplished whatever the opportunity or outcome is. Success is not what the world says is achievement; rather, it is knowing and faithfully following God's Will and His Word. It is our faith, trust, and obedience demonstrated in positive action; it is not just about numbers or measurements! When we follow biblical character in our relationships, we will have real impacting and effectual Successes that matter to and glorify our Lord. In so doing, we are willing to take a risk and go beyond ourselves, our experiences, and our knowledge to effectual achievement and accomplishment for what is best for the body of Christ (Genesis 24:12; Ecclesiastes 11:4; Nehemiah 1:11; Psalm 118:24-29; Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Corinthians 10:21; Philippians 1:19-21; Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 12:1-3).

Failing to learn from Disappointments, having Pride, Procrastinating, and insisting on Entitlement are the opposites. Procrastination and fear are tremendous destroyers to being productive for God's glory. They keep us stagnant and His church at a standstill or in conflict. They distort our abilities and call; they ignore our opportunities and the gifts God has given us. When we allow fear or entitlement to take over, His work is blocked from dwelling within us, and this causes us to forsake our opportunities and responsibilities. When we do not learn from our failures or setbacks, or when we allow procrastination to hold us back or pride to take root in us, we waste the precious, short time we are given to do our call, and this is bad character.

This Character of Success works in harmony with the Character of Failure and synergizes the Characters of Initiative and Persistence. We have confidence in Christ so we can learn and grow from failure and take careful risks because our focus is on Christ with the goal of pleasing Him. If this not our mindset, we may be too afraid to go beyond our comfort zones to do anything of significance in life or ministry. When we do not have the ability to take in possibilities and dreams as well as opportunities that are right in front of us, then we need to ask God and ourselves why. Then, we need to realize that the results belong to the Lord and Him alone, so there is no need for fear, whether it is sharing the Lord with a stranger or taking a new job. We do not need to worry about the results when we do our best, because we are in the Lord's hands; our lives belong to Him.

The passages above show us how we are to seek Christ in our pursuits and beware that unwise apprehension destroys our opportunities. Instead of being faithful as we are called to be, we become the Christian who is lazy and/or of no use. We are called to be active and overcome fear as He gives us the Spirit and other tools to do so. Having Success takes our determination in Him along with the willingness to take risks beyond ourselves, our experiences, and our knowledge into what is best for the body of Christ.

Being trustworthy and honest are key characteristics upon which this character builds, and empowers our dependability so we serve Christ properly and honorably. The theme of Success is investing, as with the Parable of the Sower. We are given the resources, possibilities, and opportunities; when we put them back into the Kingdom, we have a guaranteed dividend and investment growth in what is far more precious and valuable than an earthly stock market (Matt. 25:14-30; Phil. 2:14)!

One of the roles of faith is to invest the abilities and opportunities Jesus gives us. The Spirit empowers us to stretch and grow beyond what we think we can do, so we are able to do more. How we use what we have and what comes across our path is up to us; we can use them for benefit, or in the lives of others, in Him, or we can do what is foolish. However, when we are in Christ, why would we waste what He gives? Take comfort; God only gives us the opportunities to match the abilities and opportunities He has given us. Thus, the work is not too tough, and it is OK not to succeed; it is only when we refuse to follow and be used or we do not do our best that are considered foolish and wrong.

Many Christians do not properly understand what real, effectual Success is. Many think it is about money management or business growth or our building a big church, although the principles do apply. However, it is actually a call to have the faith to be useful, and even creative and productive. Effectual achievement is not found in pursuing the things of the world, such as money, power, fame, or possessions; these things are fleeting and will not give real Success or contentment. In fact, our wrong attitudes and pursuits will make us hurry past what is precious in life and miss our blessings from God. Success does not come by entitlement, the mindset that we are owed or privileged or have a right to something and thus do not have to put forth the effort to make it happen. Real Success is positive achievement through our growth in Christ, in ministry, and especially in our personal relationships with family and friends!

We must be willing to joyfully do the work He gives us and put our best effort forward for His service. Whatever we have been given, no matter how much, how little, or at what level, we have a responsibility to use it all for His glory. When we do not, we can expect our Lord to be very displeased with us. We can follow God's will and please Him by imitating Christ as we respond to the responsibility we have been given. We can please God by taking His love and giving it to others, and finding our natural talents and spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit has entrusted to us. This takes risk. This takes spunk. This you can do!

Being Successful is also an aspect of stewardship! What we are given is not for us to hoard or to ignore; rather, it is for us to use. We are in training for a much larger service to come. What we learn on earth helps develop our skills and integrity so we may serve Him even more here and into eternity. We need to see our lives as boot camp-training to benefit us for now and for what lies ahead. When we negate our training, we will be unprepared and ill-equipped to do much of anything for the Kingdom! Our standing in the Kingdom is determined by our faithfulness with what Christ has given us, and the people and places for which we can use those talents.

Success is obeying, which is faithfulness-Faithful over a few things! Being Successful is not about education, intelligence, or skill; rather, it is taking what He gives, putting it with what we know, and doing. It is taking what He has given, then replicating, increasing, and using it for the benefit of others, as well as for our growth and His glory (Matt. 25:21-23; 1 Cor. 4:2). Do not misjudge yourself; seek Him and let your confidence be who you are in Him, not how others respond to you! Also, be discerning and do not look just at numbers. We must be careful not to sell ourselves short. He gives us the ability and the opportunity; we must reach out and take it-risk as well as reward. To not be prepared, to not risk is to negate opportunities which will, in turn, lead to loneliness and bitterness, and we will see a life wasted instead of a life fulfilled (Matt. 6:33; 2 Cor. 1:20; 1 Peter 4:10)!

Being Successful can also have very negative aspects of pride and overconfidence against which we must guard ourselves. Confidence cannot precede faith; confidence must come from faith and one's growth in Him. Confidence without faith is pride-a heinous sin! At the same time, Success can easily lead us to pride, arrogance, belittling others, and not trusting or relying on God. Do not allow yourself to become prideful, conceited, or lazy in your outlook toward others. This thinking is straight from a source other than the Bible and God's call! Satan does not want you to be used by God; he wants you to ignore your responsibility; he wants you to feel that you deserve entitlement so you neglect to nurture one another (1 Pet. 1: 13-21)!

When we do succeed, we need to be sure it is His Success that is motivating us. Enjoying Success and blessings is not a result of faith or what faith is about. Faith helps our relationship with God by bringing us closer to Him so He can use us more. Our experiences and ideas tend to get in the way, so God has to sometimes knock us off our stool of pride so we will look up to Him (Job. 13:15; 2 Cor. 5:7).

Is the Character of Success working in you?


Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Success from God's most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit an attitude of Success in my daily life?

  2. How can I develop a better willingness to pursue Success?

  3. What blocks an attitude of Success from working and being exhibited in me?

  4. How can I make Success function better, stronger, and faster even in times of uncertainty and stress?

· Here are positive examples from Scripture: 1 Sam. 18:12-16; 2 Chron. 26:3-5; Jonah 3:4-6; Acts 8:9-13; 11:22-23 21:18-19; Phil. 4:10-13

· Here are negative examples from Scripture: 1 Sam. 18:12-16; Job 5:12; Is. 7:1-10; Jonah 1:3-6; Matt. 13:11-23; John 15:2

Further Questions

1. How would you define Success? How do you measure Success? How should you? Why are numbers not always good indicators?

2. How would the desire to seek Success improve your relationships? What part does having a "win-win" attitude play in your relationships with church members, friends, co-workers, and family?

3. How does Procrastination to God's call impact the attitude of Success? What is the cost to others (God, family, friends, neighbors, church family, co-workers, etc.) when you are a person who is focused on worldly Success?

4. What tends to take Christ's place in the lives of some Christians? Is it money, power, career, success, failures, or what? Since nothing can take His place, how and why does this happen?

5. When have you been filled with an attitude of Success the most?

6. In what situation did you fail to have an attitude of Success when you should have?

7. What issue is in your life that would improve with more of an attitude of Success?

8. Think through the steps you need to take to put Success into action in a specific instance, such as, when I am faced with opportunities and situations that may cause apprehension, how can I develop a better initiative, passion, and responsibility to undertake them? Where is Success not functioning properly in my Christian walk or church, and what can I do about it?

Being people and churches who seek to glorify and serve Christ are the measures of Success!


© 2007, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership,
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