Success and Motivation: A Biblical Alternative

Success and Motivation

Success and motivation have been interests of mine since my university days. Like two edges of the same sword, I’ve wondered and studied for decades what motivates people to succeed and how to motivate people to become all that the Creator intended them to become. 

My interests in this are even lead me to spend more than a year of my life researching and writing on the subject. The result of this adventure culminated over thirty-two years ago in my doctoral dissertation, “The Relationship of Two Theories of Motivation to Church Leader Motivation: An Examination of the Motivational Theories of Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor Within a Conservative Christian Perspective.”

I thought it would be fun to redress the world’s meaning of success and look at a Biblical definition of success based on the life of the Apostle Paul with application to the Christian writer.

What Success Is and Isn’t

Joshua 1:8 English Standard Version (ESV), “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

False Measures of Success

    • Looks – It’s not how I look.
    • Worth – It’s not how much money I have or how many books I’ve sold.
    • Connections – It’s not who I know but whose I am (here I mean being a Christian, that is a Believer in Jesus Christ).

How Success Is Determined

    • Success is determined by what I am.

Galatians 6:4 ESV, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.”

Real Success Defined

    • Real success is knowing God and living your life for Him.

A Biblical Definition of Success (from the life of the Apostle Paul)

S – Sense of Direction

Romans 15:20 (ESV), “and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,”

Philippians 3:14 (ESV), “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

As a writer do you have a direction? Are you writing in a specific genre or all over the place? Do you start many works and finish none or few? It’s impossible to get to a destination if you don’t know where you’re going. Make sure you have a clear sense of direction.

U – Understanding

Philippians 4:12 (ESV), “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV), “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Do you seek God’s guidance in your writing? Have you paid the price to learn your craft? Make sure you know the basics of the craft, understand who your target audience is, and follow the rules in your submissions, etc.

C – Commitment

Acts 20:24 (ESV), “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Do you finish what you start? Are you honoring God in your life and your writing?

C – Compassion

1 Corinthians 13:2 – 3 (ESV), “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Colossians 3:12 (ESV), “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”

Do you really care about your audience when you write? Is your motivation correct? Do you pray the price in knowing your craft, having quality editing, etc. ?

E – Enthusiastic Faith

Romans 8:31 (ESV), “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Are you excited about and love what you’re writing or are you trying to write to market for a check?

S – Servant to Others

2 Corinthians 8:19 (ESV), “And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.”

2 Corinthians 12:15 (ESV), “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?”

As Christian writers we serve God and we serve our readers. Do you have a servant’s heart?

S -Staying Power

2 Corinthians 4:8 – 9 (ESV), “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

Do you finish what you start? Do you sit down on a regular basis and write? Do you submit your work?

Paul’s Secret to Success

Paul’s secret to success is summarized in 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18 (ESV), “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Photo Source: Image by Анастасия Гепп from Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Success and Motivation: A Biblical Alternative

  1. I think success can be determined by many people in many different ways my learned friend. It all depends on the goal(s) you set. In my business writing, success is measured by the contracts awarded. In my Christian writing, I measure it by the positive impact I make for God’s kingdom from the words I aspire to write that teaches the lessons God has charged me to bring. Different goals results in different measures of success. My greatest success, I pray, will be shown at the Bema Seat of Christ, on that day my friend. As I suspect will yours. God’s blessings my friend.

  2. What a convicting blog. Lately, writing anything has been a battle, much less the fiction I believe God wants me to pen. Sounds like I need to pray God’s motivation into my work so He gets it where He wants it. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Your comments are about the same as my daily struggles with writing. I, too, need to pray daily for His guidance where I can write to His glory and honor. He knows the life that needs to be touched by my writing and will get the words to the right person.

  3. I love your Biblical definition of success from the life of Paul! What a great acrostic with pointed questions at the end to help us examine our motivations for writing.

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