When I Was Blinded By Success

There was a period when I had offered to write almost one article a week to help my ministry team meet deadlines.  Even though my command of English is ordinary, I love relating to God’s Word and began writing a lot of my experiences and thoughts.

After working late in the office, I would come home to my laptop and try to craft a new article. My team leader was concerned about whether I could manage, and told me there was no obligation. But so often, I would say “Yes, I can.”

I delighted in the positive feedback from my team leader. But as the months went by, I was not careful with my heart and took pride in the work that I was doing, trying to please the team. As I focused on delivering more and more articles, my heart began to stray. And with the good comments from my team leader, I unknowingly began to feel sufficient in my own strength. Times spent reading God’s Word was tinted with the motive of finding more content to write, not so much finding rest in God.

When I ran out of fresh experiences of my own to write about, I began writing very ordinary stories that were really not worth publishing. Eventually, more and more edits were required for my articles, and some were even rejected.

I began to feel ashamed. I was supposed to help lighten the workload of the ministry with my contributions, but was I causing more work for the team instead? Those days when my articles were so flawed finally broke my pride.

For weeks, my broken heart could not settle down, no matter how hard I tried to forget the edits and rejections of my articles. Eventually, I built up enough courage to speak to a trusted friend. She heard me out patiently and suggested that I should take a break from writing to realign and recharge. Perhaps that was what I really needed.

We did not plan out the specifics of the the break, but deep in my heart, I knew that it meant I had to stop writing for the time being and simply spend more time resting in God’s presence. This also meant surrendering everything in my path to Him.

When I did my morning devotion the next day, it was with a different attitude as I no longer felt the obligation to write. I was able to focus on seeking God with all my heart, and to rest in the presence of God—where I knew there was peace.

It became obvious to me that the times where I had focused on churning out articles, I did my morning devotions with the aim of finding more content to write and better words to use. But God wants His children to seek Him sincerely in spirit and in truth (John 14:2). As I repented before Him for my tinted motive of seeking Him, He began to search my heart.

In my brokenness that morning, God assured me that my strength comes from Him alone, and that He will give me a new song to praise Him (Psalm 28:7). My strength comes from the quiet place of communion with Him before a new day begins. Even if I had failed badly yesterday, He would give me strength to start afresh as His mercies are new morning. The glory of man or any form of self-sufficiency can never lead us to the unshakable strength that can come only from God.

At that moment, I realized that—whether in writing or any form of work—I can’t go far without the strength of God. In the presence of God, I can delight in my weaknesses even when I fail (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). My writing or work in any form does not define me, because I belong to the Father. Whether I succeed or fail in the world, nothing changes the fact that I am His beloved. In this truth, I can stand strong and confident.

Writing for ministry should be done with the true motive of glorifying God—as a reminder to myself of His faithfulness to me—and also with the hope of bringing others to Him. Instead of being His faithful servant and stewarding my gift for others to see His glory, I was writing for myself.

As I repented, I saw how my carelessness in guarding my heart had allowed pride to creep in. Blinded by my own success, I was deceiving myself in supposed self-sufficiency, and this had led me to stray from God’s grace.

The Lord’s delight is in us, and His love for us does not change whether we are successful or not. As I drew near to God, He showed me that He is the one who will continue to strengthen us even when our own strength fails. If I had not been stopped in my tracks of writing, I might have missed out on experiencing God’s goodness once again.

I remember times of anxiously waiting for replies from my team leader on the outcome of my submitted articles. But anxiety would not have crept in to affect me if I had simply trusted God whatever the outcome. Whether or not my articles were published is ultimately not important. What is important is that God’s name is glorified whatever the circumstance.

Even if I fail to write published articles again, I am satisfied. That morning, God brought me to a deep contentment in His presence. His love is unwavering, and our worth in His sight is not determined by our success. He is our maker. He knows how to lift us up when our own strength fails. In Him, I can delight even in my weakness and boast about it without fear (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

With that experience, I have continued taking a slower pace in writing, so as to rest more in God. In Him, I see a greater treasure than any success I might achieve. As He leads me by giving me fresh encounters in my journey, I will open up my laptop again and start typing, but it will no longer be a pressure that I impose on myself. It is simply more important to abide in His presence, where I have experienced the fullness of joy.

5 replies
  1. Malroux William
    Malroux William says:

    Well done article! I find it helped give me God’s peace and quiet as I deal with my life at a particularly loud and chaotic time. Thanks for sharing!

    William in Atlanta

  2. Madeline Twooney
    Madeline Twooney says:

    Agnes, thank you for sharing your experience. As a writer, l really appreciate your insight and have a learned from reading your words!


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