Always 2nd place..
From the time I was a little girl I was always #1 at being second place. Second in band, second in track and field, second chosen for the team, seconds at everything. I was at least #1 in my family as the oldest, and then at the age of 15 I found out I had an older brother… boom… second place!
I remember finally earning my way to winning 1st place for clarinet in band, then I found out it was a tied 1st place, because there were only 2 clarinet players!!!! Seriously Miss Harris, give me a break!!!!
This, “always one under ” complex, led me to become a fairly success driven person. I wanted to prove to myself and to others I could become successful. I hit university in my 20’s and I became 1st. First in my class, 1st on the honour role, and first person chosen to work with. I loved and gained so much confidence in my so-called “success” years and it really did make me joyful. I married a #1 guy, and have had 5 #1 healthy kids and I am so thankful for those successes, and I have since then forgiven my band teacher for the tie.
I believe that God allows worldly success for a few reasons, provision, confidence in ourselves, a recognition in our abilities, strengths and gifting, a platform for our purpose, and as a blessing. There are many stories of success in the bible, of battles won, favour poured out, and abundant provision. I love those stories!
The great deception of the prosperity message
However, somewhere in our Christian culture, in main stream books, and biblical teachings, we have adopted this doctrine of success. Some call it the prosperity message, I call it the GREAT DECEPTION, and I fall into it all the time.
This false success teaching, preaching or whatever you want to call it, teaches this…
#1 With each sacrifice is a reward
#2 Give so you can get more
#3When all is going good, you know you’re on the right path
#4 Joy comes from our blessings
#5 When we are called to something we will feel fulfilled in it.
#6 When we are called to something we should have all our needs met.
#7 When we sow a seed, we should expect a quick harvest
#8 Success is tangible
#9 We should be recognized for our works by man and by God.
Man, I am so drawn into this mentality. Do you see yourself there too? I pray with this doctrine as my focus all the time. I work with reward in mind, and my personal fulfilment and joy in mind, I strive for my harvest, and meditate on my future success.
But, how is it that EVERY-TIME, I hear or read the true teaching of Jesus this is what I hear…
“Give, Give, Give, give to those who hate you, do not look for reward or praise from men, and when you have given all that you can, give some more, and when you feel like you have nothing left to give, then ask me to give to you, so you can give that away too.”
So this morning as I was praying, for yes, my blessings and my successes, I felt the Lord say
“It’s not about succeeding, it’s about bleeding”
I feel conflicted sharing this, because I don’t want to diminish the favour, blessing, and joy the lord gives us. He can lead people to a man’s idea of success in a very powerful way, but I am more convinced now that our successes are only to warm us up so the blood can flow even more.
Take young David for example, his little sling-shot escapade was a #1 act for sure! I see him being thrown on the shoulders of the army, and rejoiced, and praised by men, encouraged, and exalted. Heck, he even became king, he had riches, and wealth. However, it was his perpetual bleeding and suffering, in the Psalms that is fruitful in our lives today.
“I am being mocked because of you. Dishonour overwhelms me.” Psalm 69:7,
Moses, the greatest leader of all time, was a successful prince of Egypt. He had everything a man could dream of, but when it came time for “the call” this was his cry in the midst of his purpose…
Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? 12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors?13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! 15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!” Numbers 11:10-15
Moses, in all of his mountain top, burning bush experiences, begged the lord to kill him! I can’t say he was feeling too successful or encouraged, or fulfilled at this point, and guess what? He didn’t live to enter into the harvest (the promise land) either. That’s a hard one to swallow, and we love to glimpse over this part of the story.
What Jesus really taught..
Jesus is the last, but most obvious example of bleeding vs succeeding. Here is a sample of his sermon on the mount, his divine message to the people. I have inserted the paraphrased (successful) for our teaching.
3 “You’re blessed (successful) when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed (successful) when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed (successful)when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed (successful)when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed (successful)when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed (successful)when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed (successful)when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed (successful)when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed (successful) every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. Matthew 5:7 -12(The message)
I am challenged by today’s post, challenged to change my thinking from my needs to others; that includes emotional needs, financial needs, physical needs, and spiritual needs. I am challenged to start accepting the sufferings, lack, and strains as part of the call. I am challenged to lay down my measure of success and ask God for what I can do today to bleed, without asking anything, or expecting anything in return, from people or even from the Lord. This applies to my ministries, my church, my family, and my personal life. I am challenged to stop expecting reward and to stop sowing to reap, but just to sow cause HE said so!
I have a lot of work to do. How about you?