When you’re starting out in something new, you are painfully aware of your shortcomings and faults. You see your mistakes. You realize that there is so much that you don’t know. It can be an overwhelming and discouraging feeling that makes you quit or it can be the fertile ground that breeds productive action for a good leader. When you’re unsure, you ask more questions, study longer and harder and practice with more intentionality.
But something happens over time. As a friend of mine says, “The game slows down.” Like a major league slugger, you see the curveball coming, you know where the strike zone is, you get more confident in your ability to impact the game. If you do well, there may even be those who come alongside you to applaud your efforts. You may be financially rewarded to the point that you can pursue your aspirations and enjoy things that make you more comfortable—the extra cable channels, the trips to the massage parlor or salon, the extended lunch breaks, the trips out of town. Enjoying the fruit of a job well done is no sin and should be done within reason. However, I have observed in myself and others that even the slightest tint of success can cause us to become blind to the many areas where we need to improve.
Success in one area of life can even validate the idea that “whatever I’m doing must be working,” which is a dangerous conclusion to land at. In anything, success is often a product of timing and context as much as it is the result of any one person’s individualized efforts. The classic example is the man or woman who is excelling at work but failing at home. But what about the other ways that success in one area masks underlying issues of character development or obedience to God?
Don’t let success blind you to the things you know you need to work on. At the end of the day, we all stand before God and will give an account to Him.