The Key to Success?

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matt 3:16-17 NLT)

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7 NLT)

The directive to “listen to him” was preceded by the affirmation of pleasure. Jesus brought pleasure to the heart of God. As such, He was clearly an example of what God intended man to become and to be. And God endorsed Him.

The key to genuine success in life is seen in the life of Jesus more than any other human being that has lived. That is a challenging fact, since we know he had no software to guide his reading plan, manage his time, or remind him of prayer times and personal development events. And we know he had far less access to far fewer books, including the Bible as we have known and loved it now for many centuries (the printing press was not invented yet).

The Key to genuine success in life is found in nothing less than bringing pleasure to the heart of God. And that will never be an amount of work or list of achievements issue. It is a matter of stewarding my relationship with God; of loving God with my whole heart, and bringing Him joy. That alone is what leads to His endorsement of me as a human being that can be trusted.

“Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying–“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.” (Heb 11:5 NLT)

Pleasing God. That is our ultimate calling and goal as believers. It is what God created us for.

If I will be disappointed about anything at my life audit before Christ, I surmise it will be connected to an imbalance of my outward and inward concerns. The development of myself as a child and friend of God should be of greater concern than my desire and work to influence the world around me. Pleasing the Father is the essential issue; the foundation from which a genuinely successful life and ministry to others is built.

I recall listening to Pastor Dave Ferguson explain the findings of a research project that focused on successful and growing ministries around the world. After researching hundreds of churches and ministries worldwide, surprisingly, the “key factor” that emerged was… drum roll please… the spiritual life of it’s main leader(s).  The mundane issues of Bible reading, journalling, and prayer time emerged as the main source of success.

I am a “main leader” in my ministry. Findings like this should not actually surprise us. But they do. And it challenges, and even scares me.

I’m involved in a personal and leadership development program with some good friends, called Unleash the Masterpiece.  One of the main developers of that program, Bob Clinkert, recently reiterated a belief to me that he strongly advocates for, that I suppose could be called the inside out principle:

“You will only reproduce in others what you ARE, not what you hope to be. 75% of leadership is self-leadership development (inner strength, transformative thinking, holistic living). 20% of leadership is development of how to influence people through authentic friendships. And only 5% of leadership is 360 degree team leadership development.”

Point being, it’s primarily about who we are, not about what we know, achieve, or accomplish.

I wonder how many will be surprised at the drastic imbalance revealed by Christ’s review and summation of their lives? Who may find at length that much of their efforts at fixing the world around them did not actually emanate from a pleasure-giving relationship with their Heavenly Father?

Do we exert a disproportionate percentage of time and energy trying to do God’s work and/or social good, while ignoring the development and maintaining of a vital spiritual life that gives pleasure to God?



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