The Desire for and Danger of Success

In The Quest for Authentic Manhood this week, Tierce Green shared a very interesting truth about some men who do not want to deal with their issues and be authentic men.  He said the more successful a man is the less truth they hear because they tend to put “yes men” around them.   I’ve found this to be true in many situations, and sadly it can be true in the church.

As a husband, father, pastor & leader – I want to be very successful.  Like many of the prayers you’ll find in scripture – I pray that the Lord gives me success in my endeavors; including building a church that’s focused on building His Kingdom.   God promises success to those who are obedient to Him & follow Him with pure motives; those who are committed to the commands & principles of His Word  (Joshua 1:8 states:  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.)  Jabez prayed for God to bless him and expand his territory and influence (1 Chron. 4:10)  In Psalm 90:17, God’s people prayed:   LORD our God, may your blessings be with us. Give us success in all we do!

So why would Tierce make the statement that the more successful a man is the less likely he is to hear truth.  Maybe it’s because success can breed pride (which God hates).  Pride is the root sin of so many other sins and is hard to identify in the lives of those who are proud.   Maybe it’s like he said: successful leaders begin to think that they are successful because “they’ve arrived – have all the answers – no one can teach them – they have God’s special blessing”.   This is dangerous because none of us have arrrived and we can always learn from others.   I had the privilege of having breakfast with Andy Stanley, some of his staff and 5 other pastors last year at DRIVE; I was impressed when he told us they just wanted to learn from us.   Some of the great lessons I’ve learned about life have come from the honesty of my children.   Pharoah was able to save his entire nation and other nations because he was willing to listen to the counsel of a Hebrew slave & prisoner named Joseph. 

Some successful people don’t want to take the time to deal with their issues so instead of building trust with people who will be honest with them, they surround themselves with people who are like “yes men.”  That’s a dangerous place to be because the Bible says our hearts are exceedingly deceitful so we need people around us who will tell us the truth. 

As a leader, I want to build an environment of trust on our team; that can only happen when I allow the people I lead to be honest with me.   We have a poster prominently hung in our office suite that says: “We can survive mistakes and a bad decision, but we cannot survive a culture of mistrust.”  Proverbs 27:6 reminds us:   You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies.    Paul wrote the Christ-followers at Galatia (Gal. 4:16) and asked:  Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?    We may not always agree and I have to make hard decisions, but I want my c0-workers in the Kingdom to know I value their input.   I want them to tell me the truth, and want to build an environment where they know I am going to speak the truth to them too – even when it’s tough.   Every chance I get – I try to listen to or read great leaders, but I’ve also learned much by listening to the people in the trenches who are working with me to build God’s Kingdom (not mine).

About bjrutledge

BJ & Janet were married in July 1977 They have three grown children who are all married: Jeremy & Whitney Rutledge, Chris & Julie Hurst, and Josh and Hannah Rutledge. They also have five grandsons, and a granddaughter. BJ says perhaps our greatest legacy is even though our kids are PK's, they love Jesus and are all involved in ministry in the local church. BJ has served at churches in Dallas - Bossier City, LA - Houston - and was at Fellowship of the Woodlands (Woodlands Church) in The Woodlands before coming to Grace Fellowship. BJ is the Legacy Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise, TX.
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