Success doesn’t equal identity 

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:8-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

How much are you worth? We may not ever ask ourselves that exact question but thoughts and feelings of worth trickle through our minds from time to time. We subconsciously compare our material possessions with those of others. We may assign values to our businesses or ministries.

Honestly, we can’t help it. In our culture, we’re considered successful if we have accumulated money and things. In our capitalist society, virtually everything has a price and value. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The problem comes when we put prices and values on ourselves and make those values part of our identity. 

That’s what the devil did to Jesus. The devil showed Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He showed him the might, wealth, and riches of kingdoms and offered it to Jesus. 

This attack was really tricky. Instead of referring to Jesus as the Son of God as he did in the first two attacks, Satan appealed to Jesus’ humanity. He wasn’t talking to the “Son of God”. He was talking to the son of a middle class, blue collar carpenter who was never wealthy. His goal was to get Jesus to chase wealth and success instead of following God. 

Satan approaches us the same way. He shows us a never ending stream of new and better things to acquire. He distracts us with images of promotions and greater success. We don’t always realize it but the longer we look at the kingdoms and glory, the less we may think of ourselves. 

Don’t tie your identity to your success or material worth. You’re no less important to God if you don’t have a bigger church, nicer car, or better business. Your fame fortune or popularity are inadequate definitions for your identity. When we are secure in our identity toward God, we can put Satan in his place. 

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Jesus was offended by Satan’s petty offer. When you’re the Son of God whose Father owns the world, the kingdoms in the world are a drop in the bucket. Literally. 

“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Only God can tell us what we’re worth because only God was able to pay the price for our salvation. Only God can determine our success because only he has the plan for our lives. 

Be Great Followers

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Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8 NKJV)

One of my favorite coaches is Bill Parcels. He is a great leader who has turned around several NFL teams. He has enjoyed the personal success of winning two Super Bowls and was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But more impressive is the success of his followers. Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, and Sean Payton all served under Parcels and were all given opportunities to be head coaches. All three of these coaches have gone on to win Super Bowls: Belichick (3), Coughlin (2), and Payton (1). Good followers like these coaches embrace the instruction and molding provided by their leaders.

In Ephesians 6 Paul stresses the importance of servants following well. He reveals how following well, even when the leader isn’t around, is representative of our service to Christ. In our world of managers and employees or leaders and staff members, the ability to follow well is an indicator of leadership potential. Great leaders are first great followers.

People who follow well exhibit respect for authority and buy-in to the leader’s vision. Leaders know they can trust these followers and may exercise that trust by delegating greater responsibilities to them. This benefits the leader because it increases their overall reach and influence. It benefits the follower by giving them tangible experiences. As the leader experiences more success, those who follow well will be given their own opportunities to lead.

Paul says “knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:8 NKJV) If we serve well, we will in turn be served well. If we support our leaders and make our teams successful, the same will happen for us when it’s our time to lead. If we follow our leaders well, we will find our efforts will make both the leader and ourselves successful.

How can following your leader contribute to your personal success?

Prepared for Success

It was fifteen years ago that I began to serve as an Associate Minister under the leadership of Reverend H. Frank Centrallo. After some preliminary conversations where he assessed my abilities, he mapped my plan of development with the following statement.

“Domecia, you’re pretty proficient in your knowledge of scripture so I won’t be teaching you scripture. Instead, I’m gonna teach you how to minister in the church and deal with church life.”

Looking back, I know this was the perfect plan for me. I’d spent years doing campus ministry but had little experience with the established church. Reverend Centrallo had plans to put me to work in various capacities in the church but he knew I needed to be equipped. by doing so he was protecting the church from the needless mistakes I would make and he was protecting my heart by setting me up for ministry success. I thank God for the countless conversations and lessons learned through our relationship. 

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)

As leaders we must be deliberate in our efforts to develop our teams. Just as God creates us in Christ to perform good works he has prepared for us, we too must shape, mold, empower, and equip our people for success. If we fail to properly develop those who serve in our organizations their actions could be detrimental to overall success and cause their personal morale to slide. 

Ultimately as a leader it is your responsibility prepare your people for their tasks and your opportunity to participate with God in the work of making them better. For each position and person you lead identify their developmental needs. Those needs may be centered on what they know, how they perform, or where they’re positioned within the organization. Engage them with an attitude that genuinely cares for their personal success. In the end their success will contribute to organizational success.