Biblical “Success”

Whose agenda are you leading? It seems like an innocent enough question, right? In a world of dreams, visions, strategies, goals, and plans we tend to find ourselves rallying around a cause or tribe. Oh, we maintain our freedom and independence in most cases to choose; however, at the core, we always are aligning ourselves with an agenda.

In my book anticipated to be titled, Whose Agenda Are You Leading?, I’ll share how our family was “living the dream”.  Like most, I’d never stopped to ask the question as to “Whose agenda I was leading”; however, it’s now abundantly clear.  In a world that often defines “success” around things like money, possessions, titles, and the like, by most people’s standards, we had them all.  Marrying my high school sweetheart, having two wonderful children, having a senior level executive position that afforded us with a six-figure lifestyle to include a lake house, vacations, and rarely concerned with money, I was clearly at the helm of our family.  And, looking through the lens of worldly “success”, most would have believed our family was leading a very successful life.

Then, it happened…I lost control!

Whose agenda are you leading? shares in intimate detail my story as I lost control and began a journey to truly be challenged as to whose agenda I was leading and would lead moving forward.  I began to wrestle daily with what “success” looks like.  More specifically, I began to wrestle with what “biblical success” looks like in the world we live today.

Like many leaders in biblical times, over the next season of life, our family had nearly everything stripped away.  During this journey, we began a transformation to truly identify God’s agenda for our lives and what it means to surrender complete control of our lives to “His agenda”.  Along the way, I’ve come to understand that true biblical “success” only exists in the process of discernment of God’s will for one’s life and walking in obedience to His will.

While we’ve only just begun, in my upcoming book, Whose agenda am I leading? I’ll share my story in intimate detail.  More importantly, while we can never place God in a box, I outline a process I’ve found people often go through in discernment of biblical “success”.  Additionally, in the book, I share a few tools which assist in this process for which today, I’m offering to you one of these tools:  Biblical “Success” Test.

Biblical “Success” Test

I’ve discovered that biblical “success” is found in the journey versus a destination.  While scripture is clear about our need to have a vision, goals, strategic plans, and work diligently toward these, it also is very clear about our need to hold loosely to our plans.  It’s in this tension of striving toward a vision with one’s plans while “holding loosely” that the process of focusing on the journey, or moments, becomes most important.  A tool God has given us in his scriptures is His Spirit.

For today’s purposes and this test, we must assume one already is aware of the role of The Holy Spirit or Advocate in our lives.  Your personal experience can be as a novice with minimum understanding of the Spirit to one whose an experienced follower.  Most important is your openness to the existence of God’s Holy Spirit living within you and being your “Advocate, Counselor, Guide”.

In Galatians 5, Paul contrasts a Life by the Spirit vs. Life by the Flesh.  I encourage you to stop and read this passage of scripture for which all my references are from the New International Version.   I encourage you to pay particular attention to Galatians 5:22-23 which many know as the Fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Now, here’s the test:

Taking a circumstance in your life which you’re seeking discernment, begin to filter it through the Life by the Spirit versus Life by the Flesh.  Which of the following do you tend to relate at a heart level?:

Life by the Spirit

Life by the Flesh
Love Hatred
Joy Discord
Peace Worry
Forbearance (patience) Anxiety
Kindness Hard Driving
Goodness Immorality
Faithfulness Idolatry
Gentleness Selfish Ambition
Self- Control Fits of rage


As you stop and reflect upon a circumstance or decision which lies ahead, which of these sets of words do you tend to relate most?

If this is your first time utilizing this particular model from God’s Word, discernment may not be intuitively obvious.  Even for those more experienced followers of His Spirit, it’s not always obvious.  Having personal experience, as well as utilizing this model with numerous coaching clients, I can attest that it is an effective way of discerning God’s will in a particular circumstance or moment.

Allow me to offer an example related to a personal business decision which I had to make some years past.  I had been involved with a particular business opportunity for years and truly enjoyed most aspects of it.  Like anything, it had it’s days of selfish ambitions, worry, anxiety as well as other more “fleshly” characteristics; however, overall, my sense was I was on a path which God was leading.  Then, a few years into this business relationship, I started to become more and more discontent.  As I looked to find the “fruits”, I was having difficulty in doing so.  Over time, I’d seen my personal “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” diminish.  I couldn’t quite understand everything going on; however, at a heart level, something had changed.  While it wasn’t overnight and I sought other Godly advisors in my life prior to making the decision, it became clear that I needed to let go of that particular business opportunity.  Over the course of the next few months, I transitioned with little understanding of why having only belief that I was walking in obedience.  Looking back on it today, it’s abundantly clear that His Spirit was leading through that situation for which I share more about the story in my upcoming book.

So, what about you?  Does this tool which God has given us in His Word provide more clarity?  Can you see how, if used regularly, one would begin to discern and understand “God’s agenda”.  Can you then begin to see how “biblical success” only exists in the process of discernment of God’s will for one’s life and walking in obedience to His will?

(Note:  Likely today’s photo means absolutely nothing to you.  For me, it’s the view of the location I’ve sat now more than 4 years listening and discerning God’s voice in my life.  Many of the stories I’ve shared over the past few years have come from this little spot for which I’ll be eternally grateful.)

2 responses to “Biblical “Success””

  1. Gloria Eller says:

    Thank you! Can’t wait until the book comes out. Knowing you through many years of your journey, you have been an example for all who know you.

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