Success – Have We Got It All Wrong?

by Christine Sine


I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of everyone telling me their 5, 7 or 10 tips for success, aka fame and fortune. As Christians I think that our view of success should be totally different from that of the secular world’s, yet often we buy into the same values.

Think about it. How did Jesus model success? Certainly not by becoming rich and famous. Definitely not in the ways that all the business gurus tell us we will find success. He modelled a different form of success that had him rubbing shoulders with outcasts, living without a home and finally dying the death of a criminal.  Yet his was the most successful life in the history of humanity.

So what is Jesus’ formula for success – here are my five top tips for a really successful Christ centred life.

1. Get Your Priorities Straight. Jesus had a very different view of success. He was not concerned about personal glory and fame. He was passionate about bringing the Kingdom of God into being and wants us to be too. John 6:38,39  says: I have come down from heaven not to pursue My own agenda but to do what He desires. I am here on behalf of the Father who sent Me. 39 He sent Me to care for all He has given Me so that nothing and no one will perish. In the end, on the last day, He wants everything to be resurrected into new life. (The Voice)

2. Die to self: Fruitfulness come not from seeking our own fulfillment but from being willing to die so that others can flourish. John 12:24 saysI tell you the truth: unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it remains a solitary seed. But when it is planted, it produces in death a great harvest. (The Voice)

3. Share generously1 John 3:16, 17 links the theme of dying to self with the need to be generous especially toward those at the margins – not exactly Wall Street’s view of success:We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters. (The Voice)If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? (The Voice).

4. Take Time for Prayer: Jesus never made major decisions without spending at least a night in prayer. He inaugurated his ministry with 40 days in the wilderness. How much more “successful” from God’s perspective would we be if we had a fraction of this commitment?

5. Listen to the Spirit and be willing to let go: Jesus often walked away from the crowds not towards them, usually inspired by hours in prayer. He alienated his followers by doing all kinds of things they disapproved of – walking through Samaria, talking to women, eating with tax collectors and then he crowned it all by walking away from the most successful healing ministry in the history of the world to walk toward Jerusalem and the cross – a very deliberate step away from the power structures of the world.

So what do you think? What does the truly successful Christian life look like?

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Bill June 2, 2015 - 3:59 am

Good post. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’m sure it isn’t being rich and famous.

Christine Sine June 2, 2015 - 6:16 am

Thanks Bill

treetopbirdy June 2, 2015 - 5:26 am

It looks like Jesus. It’s funny how the simplest things are the ones that surprise me again and again. I think “how will I…” “how will we…” “what’s the solution…” etc and every single time it’s Jesus. Being successful is being close to, thinking of, being like Jesus. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control all flow out of that. Prayer flows freely, river-free, out of that. That’s it, that’s all. When you see the tips-for-success article, you smile and lean on Jesus. You might even read it. And then smile some more -and lean on Jesus. Just calm down and trust Jesus. Success

Christine Sine June 2, 2015 - 6:15 am

Yes that sounds like it. Very different from what the world sees as success though

Mary Harwell Sayler June 2, 2015 - 6:37 am

Christine, this will help other poets and writers to get rid of preconceived notions about writing or being a writer so we can focus on God’s priorities for our work. Thanks. I’ll highlight your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog – May God continue to bless your good words and work in Jesus’ Name.

Christine Sine June 2, 2015 - 6:59 am

Thanks Mary always appreciate your affirmation. I have just been with a friend who was deeply hurt by the “successful” leaders of a large megachurch she was involved in. This post flowed from chatting to her.

Michael Moore June 2, 2015 - 8:51 am

An excellent reminder, Madre… Advice that needs to be heard over and over and over again, sadly… So sorry to hear about your friend’s experience… sometimes the church is the least Christ-like of any person or organization… we used a saying during my AF days… Christians kill their wounded… Thank you for being the voice of faith and life that you are 🙂

Christine Sine June 2, 2015 - 8:53 am

Thanks Michael – unfortunately, like you I have seen it all too often. We do kill our wounded in our race to be at the top of the pile and push forward our own agendas rather than God’s.

fr joseph (Rev. Richard Lyons, in the world!) June 2, 2015 - 10:47 am

I am reminded: (John 17:16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
We are commanded to be separated out from the world, while yet living IN this world. The world, as Jesus reminds us, is the domain, the plaything of the Enemy. WE are not to be any part of that trap, lest we lose our soul. The Master frequently speaks of our being separated out from the herd…I think we, in the Church’s urgency to be “accepted” and seen as “normal”, have forgotten what it is to be a Christian. We are not supposed to be like ohers in the world…we are to set a standard of living which is apart from and above, the norm. At least, that is how I read the Gospels and the Fathers.

Christine Sine June 2, 2015 - 10:49 am

Amen to that – apart from and above the norm is a wonderful way of expressing it. So often we think of the world’s view of success as being above the norm, but from God’s perspective it is actually below the norm. Thank you for your response.

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