Dirty Little Secret, Part 2

Have you ever thought some of those things to yourself?  Those phrases are the whisperings of the bitch-goddess:“I did it all, all by myself.”“Look at what I have become.”“It’s all mine.”J.B. Phillips, author and translator of the Bible, wrote in “The Danger of Success” -

busy-man“I was in a state of some excitement throughout 1955. My work was intrinsically exciting. My health was excellent; my future prospects were rosier than my wildest dreams could suggest; applause, honor and appreciation met me everywhere I went. I was well aware of the dangers of sudden wealth and took some severe measures to make sure that, although comfortable, I should never be rich. I was not nearly so aware of the dangers of success. The subtle corrosion of character, the unconscious changing of values and the secret monstrous growth of a vastly inflated idea of myself seeped slowly into me. Vaguely I was aware of this and, like some frightful parody of St. Augustine, I prayed, ‘Lord, make me humble, but not yet.’ I can still savor the sweet and gorgeous taste of it all: the warm admiration, the sense of power, of overwhelming ability, of boundless energy and never-failing enthusiasm. It is very plain to me now why my one-man kingdom of power and glory had to stop.”

One-man and one-woman kingdoms “of power and glory.” That’s the danger. That kind of success can lead us to that place where we forget who it is that is behind whatever strength and wealth we have achieved. It’s not that success is inherently wrong. It’s that we have allowed it to rival God and God will share His worship with no one and no thing. Maybe the term “bitch-goddess of success” just might need to resurface in our world to remind us of the threat. For God is a jealous God. And we have become unfaithful spouses.But guess what? It doesn’t have to be this way.Here’s the good news. I believe you can climb that ladder of success to live and finish well. Now does this indicate we’re going to have to define exactly what “success” and “finishing well” means? Yes, and that’s a part of what this book is about. In fact, much of what is presented here will be a redefinition of such words and phrases.And here’s the hard news: It’s going to take work, something called “the work before the work.”In the opening story, I shared with you about the celebrated Chinese woodcarver. What set him apart from all the rest was his decision to first do the work before the work. Had he skipped this crucial step it’s likely he would have been like any other wood carver. But he didn’t, and in the wake of that choice widespread enduring success and a sterling reputation followed. From my latest book Inside Job: Doing The Work Within The Work (Due for release June, 2015 by InterVarsity Press