Posted on September 3, 2008
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book to be released in December titled Pure Praise. It will be featured in Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox later this week. But I wanted you, our faithful readers, to get a sneak peak at it!
This article takes a compelling look at who and how God promotes within His Kingdom. Far too many ministers — and believers in general — try to manipulate their circumstances and other people in an effort to get ahead. This article shows clear scriptural mandates for humility and trust, rather than self-promotion and scheming. The rise of Casting Crowns to prominence is a poignant illustration given in the article of how and why God may choose to elevate us. Enjoy! –Dwayne
From Week 6, Day 3 of Pure Praise:
Do you love a good puzzle? Well, I’ve got one for you: What is the meaning of real success? There are countless books on library shelves that attempt to answer that age-old question. But even crime scene investigators, with their state-of-the-art techniques, would be hard-pressed to solve this one! Conventional investigation tools can’t unravel the clues that will lead us to the truth. That’s because true success does not come from following a clever method or by manipulating people and circumstances.
When I first surrendered to travel fulltime as a speaker and worship leader, one of the first things I did was buy a CD telling me how to get started in Christian music. In it, several leading artists shared their insights into how to “get discovered.” (One suggestion that stands out in my memory was to go to Nashville and camp out on the doorsteps of recording companies!)
As good and practical as their ideas were, the advice that helped me most wasn’t about what I should do; it was more about what I shouldn’t do. Carman simply quoted Psalm 75:6-7: “For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another” (RSV). Carman said that our focus should be to go deep in our relationship with God, and trust God to open the doors of opportunity he wants us to enter.
Of course, this advice goes against our human nature. We stubbornly want things to happen our way, in our time. Our carnal nature tells us we must scratch and claw and do whatever it takes to get to the top. But an often used illustration sums it up well: How would it be to climb all the way up the ladder of success only to find at the top that your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall? That is why we must define and then settle for nothing less than authentic success (against the best wall!) in both our ministries and our lives.
It doesn’t take much research to discover the secret to God’s definition of success. In fact, the law of divine elevation is certainly not a mystery. Few principles get as much attention in God’s Word. Scriptures like James 4:10, Job 5:11, Luke 14:11, and Proverbs 3:34 each point to one fact: We are not to be “the show.” That honor is reserved for the Lord only. As John the Baptist said, God “must become greater,” and we “must become less” (John 3:30). Yet, the promised result of our humbling ourselves is phenomenal: God will promote us! I know of nothing more profound for ministers to learn. Here’s a good way to think of it: The law of gravity says, “What goes up must come down.” The law of divine elevation says, “What comes down through humility will go up through Christ-like exaltation!”
But how can we know for sure that we would really prefer the success God would bring us to the prosperity, power, and popularity society offers? The clues are found in the seven little words from the second half of 1 Peter 5:6: “in due time he may exalt you” (RSV). These clues will point us to three reasons God’s success strategy is far superior to the world’s.