God’s Definition of Success

Dr. Alvin Ang Tuesday, April 22, 2014 // Discipleship, Worship, Youth // Comments

Have you ever wondered why only a few people become successful? Before we can really go into details, we have to clarify what do we mean by successful. Our world today has defined success in terms of what we have, what we know, whom we know, what we have finished, among others. Success is defined in terms of a lifestyle that accrues to the rich and famous. Is that really success?


We who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should radically deviate from this definition and mindset. In reality this is a trap where few of us will be able to extricate once tied into it. We have to define success as God has defined it in His Word.

How does God then define success? This verse in Ecclesiastes 9:11 clarifies how we should view success.

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NIV)

First, it says that it does not come from experience and effort, not from strength, not from knowledge and education and not from skills. The fastest does not always win the race. We have so many stories in sports to prove this. The strongest armies lose battles. Some educated people cannot break the barrier to a better future. The skilled carpenter remains an obscure worker in a sash factory. These happen despite all these people doing their very best to hit it right! In short, God is saying that no matter what effort we put into what we do, it will not necessarily lead to the success we are expecting.

The second part of the verse says something that cause success – it says that it is decided by chance – by being at the right place at the right time. Brethren, we know that chance here does not mean luck. God is a God of certainty. There is no place for faith and hope to be based on luck. It means that chance is the favor of God. It is about His sovereignity. Acts 17:26 validates this – it says that He determined the times set for men and the exact places where they would live. Amazing isn’t it! Therefore success is not the result of our effort but the result of a relationship with God. It is an outcome and not an objective!

So does that mean that we should no longer work hard? Of course not! God did not say that. He is saying that working hard apart from Him leads to nothing. What He has given us as talents and resources have a purpose that supports His purpose. We are His partners in making this place a better place to live in and making sure that people will enjoy Him in eternity. Bezalel and the temple workers in Exodus 35 were already skilled people, but when they offered their services for God’s work, God filled them with His Spirit to do more – to master their crafts.

When we align our lives, our dreams, our talents, our gifts, our resources and everything that we are to God’s purposes – success becomes a certainty, because He will ensure that we will be at the right place at the right time. So the secret to become successful is to first define success in God’s terms and align our lives to His purposes. Surely and certainly, success will come our way effortlessly and without the stress and pressure of working extremely hard on our own. God bless.