The Secrets of Success
The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” ... And [Moses] said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” -Exodus 33:1-3, 15
In the story above, Moses is talking with God right after the Israelites had worshiped the golden calf. God had just sent a plague throughout the camp because of their disobedience and their willingness to follow gods that they had made with their own hands. In his anger, God tells the people to do what they want and to just leave and go to the Promised Land. He even says that he will make them successful. He says that he will bring them into the land like he has promised, and that he will send an angel to get rid of all of their enemies in the land. However, he said that he would not be with them. Moses responds by saying that he will not go without God’s presence.
How do you define success? Be very cautious when you are examining the successfulness of your walk with Jesus or the successfulness of your ministry, because if we judge with standards other than God’s, we can think we have succeeded when we really haven’t. You can have lots of followers, you can spend four hours a day reading the bible, you can have a lot of money being given to your ministry, but if you miss out on God’s presence, you lose.
People will not always listen to you if you are speaking God’s word. Jeremiah 7:27 says, “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.” Jeremiah spoke exactly what God told him to, but nobody listened to him. He was a loner. Nobody listened to Ezekiel, either: “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. ... But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.’” (Ezekiel 3:4, 7) So also, Paul warns Timothy that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
We are called to speak God’s Word in this world and to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do this, we can be assured that God’s presence will go with us. Don’t judge your success by numbers or money or good feelings. Judge your success by your submission to the will of God - something you can only know better by spending intimate time with Him. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” (Hebrews 4:16a) Our Jesus has given us access to the throne room of God, his holy mountain. Ascend the hill! Spend time with God, discern his will for you, and go out fulfilling that will, knowing that even if you don’t see success in the “normal” way, you will one day stand before the Judge and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)