We struggle and fight to gain success - power, profits, prowess, or whatever. Gradually we achieve them. We climb the ladder, pass others and come out on top. Or at least satisfactorily near the top. But then what do we do?
We overdo it! In overdoing it, we sow the seeds of our own destruction. Later on, we fall - yet the severity of that fall is unecessary. This applies to individuals, to groups, to whole sectors of human activity and to nations. As the Bible says,
"Pride comes before a fall"
and it applies right across the board. Our problem is that we see success as achievement, and not as gift.
Seeing success as achievement leads to at least three problems:
- We keep our habits. In the early days we have to work hard just to survive. Then we learn how to exert the focus, discipline and effort needed to climb. But, as we climb, exerting these becomes a habit. And habits are hard to stop, especially if they give some immediate fulfilment and gratification to those of us who are involved.
- We develop a taste for competition. As we start to enjoy a modicum of success, we discover the good feeling of comparing ourselves with others. We are stimulated to greater effort, and become better than them. Competing is pleasant - when we are on the up. And we develop a taste for it, and once on top we always find other arenas in which to compete.
- Pride, selfishness, arrogance and unconcern. We believe our own propaganda and marketing hype. We develop an assumption that we are best. Worse, we develop an assumption that the rest of the world owes us a living. We think about how to keep our top position, and put much effort into that. We forget those less fortunate or powerful than ourselves. We even start to sacrifice their needs to our desires and wishes.
The Bible shows clearly what was "the sin of Sodom" - "arrogance and unconcern for the poor ... and so I destroyed them."
We fall. Not immediately, but after a time. Despite all our plans and 'vision building'. Look at TWA.
Look at British agriculture: struggled from the 1950s to provide more food, became wealthy, became arrogant and elitist, cared not for 3 million farm-worker jobs that have been deliberately lost since world war 2 in U.K., deliberately turned a deaf ear to calls to extensify and do right by the environment, and now is afflicted by debts, suicides, BSE, and public approbrium. Serves them right. (Though we can also empathize with individuals, especially the small hill farmers who are suffering unjustly for the sins of others.)
When we have reached the top of the hill of success, then it is time to raise the foot off the accelerator. We should cast our view outside of ourself, and see success as a gift, not an achievement. A gift from God, if you like. And, in that position of thankfulness, we should look to others and help them. The powerful have a responsbility to the less powerful:
- to give way to them
- to exert effort on their behalf
- to look after their interests, rather than our own
- to nurture them with the good things given to us.
Once we have a measure of success, it is then time for us to consider others rather than ourselves. And that includes the non-human 'others'.
Where is your sector today? Car industry? Road building? House building? Giant supermarket chains? Food processors? Media? News media? You have success. That success is a gift to you, not an achievement. You must turn back. Don't seek to protect your own position, your own profits. Seek rather to protect those you have trampled on your way to success. Repent, turn to God's way of loving and merciful justice before it is too late.
If we're a leader of any kind we have some degree of success. Politicians. Managers. Opinion formers. 'Movers and shakers'. Authors. Anyone with a degree of influence.
All of us who are leaders in this sense should take the above message to heart. The Living God gives us success, leadership, influence, so that we may be a source of blessing and service to his Creation.
But if we use our position to our own benefit, comfort, pleasure, then it will be removed from us. Maybe not immediately; maybe after we have been given time to repent; but taken away our success most certainly will be if we don't repent.
Page under construction. See also pages on leadership, pride, idolatry, and the site A New View in Theology.
This page is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2009. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
Part of his www.abxn.org pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext. Number of visitors to these pages: .
Last updated: 20 Jan 02. 5 January 2009 .end, .nav, links.