Does Success Scare People?

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.  From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family.  And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.  Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres.  As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
    and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”  And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

  • 1 Samuel 18:1-11

From this Scripture, David had reason to fear King Saul, but that is not the fear that I am referring to.  In a way, it might relate to Saul’s fear of David, but not really that either.

Have you ever had a dream of doing something that resonated with other people and you worked toward that end with minimal success until one day, BOOM!  One day, among the hundreds of other days, it seems ‘success’ has found you.

I did a search for the word “success” in the NIV.  It is quite odd.  The NIV has no references to the word in the New Testament.  Could it be that God is not interested in “success,” but He is interested in you?

If success has happened, all of a sudden, did you get the big head or did you praise God?  Did you celebrate or did you simply go to bed, thinking that tomorrow is another day?  Did you think “Success at last!” or did you think “Now what?”

Last week, I wrote a post at Slim Jim’s (Domain of Truth) suggestion as a review of the documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone.  If you go to the post, you might see about 10 likes and 9 comments, as of the writing of this post.  Those are typical numbers and without looking at the avatars for the likes or the comments, I could name most of them, the people that come by on a regular basis.  What you don’t see is that I had more than 50 times more visitors that day than I have ever had in a single day.

Within the first hour, I told my wife that I had over 500 visitors within the first hour that the post came up on the site.  Her response was “Praise the Lord!”

But the engineer in me, and the number cruncher in me, wanted to know why.  Within a few hours, I probably had views from every time zone on earth, even those who probably should have been in bed asleep at the time.  But practically none of them clicked the “like” button.  My brain came up with the idea that they visited in hopes of finding a link, through some backdoor, to the documentary so that they could watch it without paying for it.  This became fixed in my thinking.  It never dawned on me any other reason for the spike in views and visitors.

When that thought came into my mind, I felt guilty.  Had I misled people when all I did was write a review?  I did not give a link to the trailer or the shortened version that are available online.  I simply wrote a review.  I had never had one hundred people visit my blog site in a single day.  Now I had nearly 2,000 visitors in a day, over 2,000 views.  And I was scared I had done something wrong, never thinking that this was ‘right.’

I second-guessed this minor success, minor in that it was one post among more than 1,000 posts.  I lamented that all the insights that WordPress provides will now say “whatever you did near 9:00am on Tuesday, do it again, because what you are now doing is not working.”  The statistics page now looks like the Washington Monument with paving stones going up to it in both directions, meaning the vertical bar graph is a colored line for each day with no height compared to the one huge vertical line.  How will I track how I am doing graphically?  In my fear, I was focusing on all the wrong things.

Everything seemed to be ruined, or at least skewed, because of one success.  As my wife praised God for the one success, I lamented.

And in my pity party, God seemed to be laughing.  That familiar voice came to me, not audible but we had a conversation, of sorts.

The Voice:  Isn’t this what you wanted from this blog?
Me:  Yes
The Voice:  Why are you upset?
Me:  It is just one post, and it seems that they did not find what they were looking for, so maybe the views were made due to some kind of misconception.
The Voice:  But a lot of people come to this site and not find what they need.  Not everyone likes what they see.
Me:  But what if I did deceive others?
The Voice:  Was the review of the documentary an honest one?
Me:  Yes.  But it was a review about something that someone else did.
The Voice (almost laughing at this point):  Stop.  Wait just a second.  Who wrote the review?
Me:  I did.
The Voice:  Is that any different to any of the other posts? Why do you write all of these essays and other things?
Me:  To spread the Gospel.
The Voice:  Then keep writing, and let the Boss sort out why these people visited the site.
(There may be some paraphrasing here. I wasn’t taking notes at the time.)

Yes, I feared success, but I have contended that it is God’s blog site anyway.  I only work here.  So, God can do whatever He wants to do with it.

Saul was afraid of David’s success.  He knew that he had screwed up.  He knew there would be a different king soon.  Samuel had already said that God had rejected him (1 Samuel 15:26).  In the Scripture above, it says that an evil spirit came upon Saul.  Evil spirits lie to you and they can mess you up inside.

Mine was a different reason for fear, but the same voice was going through my head that went through Saul’s, Satan’s.  With me, Satan spread lies that I was not good enough and my single success was under “false pretenses” and he spread doubts that the success could ever be repeated.  And my fear was generated by listening to the lies and believing them.

Yet, when you have daily time with God in prayer, you get to recognize God’s voice, and God pulled me back from the brink.  You can verify God’s voice through Scripture, and God wants us to spread the Word the ends of the earth, or as in this case on that one day to all the time zones.  Don’t question it.  Just enjoy the ride.

This blog site is still God’s blog site and its success or failure is in His hands, all to His glory.  And maybe next time I won’t second-guess myself.  And I should never second-guess the boss.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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