My favorite thinker, philosopher and theologian Dallas Willard coined this phrase “Nothing Fails Like Success.” He spoke of it many times in the context of local congregations. Some times we begin with an organic, pure desire to reach lost people and see them discipled but somehow lose our way in programs, services and offerings. While all these things have a place, they are only the vessel and not the treasure.
The reality sometimes for all of us is that this statement hits us personally as well. I believe 2 of the greatest strengths that can make use at risk for this “failure” is:
Proverbs 18:16 says that “a mans gift will make room for him and bring him before great men.” How often have we seen many gifted people fall greatly because what opened the door for them did not have the foundation or structure to sustain them. I pray this for my own life, for my children and for my wife “God develop in us the character that can carry the gifting.” Another way of saying it is “be faithful in doing the things that nobody sees so that you can be trusted doing the things that everyone sees.”
I Corinthians 8:1 says that “knowledge makes one arrogant but love builds up…”. Many times people have so much knowledge and understanding about things that they become “too good” to get dirty and work with others. As a pastor for over 20 years I have seen this often in those who have served God the longest, it is almost like they “outgrow” serving, doing the little things and being available for whatever is needed. We must all remember that true biblical knowledge always involves action and it’s end goal is loving God and loving others.
So in our pursuit to use the gifts that God has given us let’s be sure that we are developing the often hidden parts of our character that like a precious treasure must be mined out! And may we also zealously seek the true knowledge from above that is evidenced in a life sacrificial love. In so doing these things may be go from success to success.