What is it that is so wrong about the cult of success? At its heart, the problem is that God doesn’t ask us to try and be “effective” people, as the success gurus teach. Instead, he asks us to trust him and, therefore, to follow him. The distinctions are dramatic.
Effective people need to see everything on charts, laid out neatly and clearly. They are ultimately proactive – they grab initiative, set goals, measure progress, and – where there is conflict – seek to find win/win scenarios. They do try to listen to others, but often only to create a relationship that is more open to their own influence. They are always looking for ways to be more productive and competent in achieving their goals. In short, they try and take charge of situations and move in an unyielding manner toward the goals that they find to be prudent.
People of faith, on the other hand, are ultimately reactive – they seek to listen to God’s spirit and to be yielded to God’s will, which necessarily requires them to conform to the ever-changing needs of others. It is the state of readiness to be shaped and molded by God, rather than the state of determination to accomplish our own ends, that God cherishes.
Is it possible that faith in God requires us to give up our own purpose-driven ways, and instead trust God – even blindly – as he seeks to reclaim his creation? And if that is true, is the cult of success pointing us in the exact opposite direction of faith? Is it, in its own way, an antichrist?
Regardless of how you answer those questions, there is a sense in which scripture tells us that Christians can be “effective” people. And we’ll talk about what “effectiveness” means in the context of Christian spirituality in the next post in this series.