John Maxwell devoted an entire book to the initial failures of extremely successful people. In his book, Failing Forward, he wrote, “When it comes right down to it, I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don’t. The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. Nothing else has the same kind of impact on people’s ability to achieve and to accomplish whatever their minds and hearts desire.”
While people understand the struggle for success in the temporal world, they don’t think about being successful spiritually. This is why so many people reach a high level of success in their field of expertise and still have an empty feeling inside that they can’t seem to satisfy. We see this in business executives, high paid athletes, movie stars, and other worldly endeavors. The reality is that temporal success plus spiritual failure does not add up to happiness.
If spiritual success is important, it would be to our benefit to understand how to measure it. I believe that there are four signs of spiritual success found in the first psalm. First, a successful spiritual life is one that has found and maintained moral stability (v. 1). Second, it is a life that is spiritually oriented and that takes delight in spiritual things (v, 2). Third, it is a life that bears good fruit. (v.3). Fourth, it is a life that has no doubt about its eternal security (v. 6)
Like temporal success, our spiritual success doesn’t come easy. We stumble and fall. With each failure, there is one lesson to be learned. It is that we can't succeed on our own. We need the daily guidance of God’s Spirit in our lives. He is the one who shines light on our failures but He is also the one who will extend a hand to lift us up. If we choose not to yield to His leadership, we will continue to fail and spiritual success will elude us throughout our lives.
If these words seem to be more discouraging than encouraging because you know that you have not been successful in your spiritual walk, reach out and take His hand. It is always extended toward you. Let Him lift you up and dust you off. He will lead you to success if you will follow His guidance. Do not dwell on past failures but remember, “It is not how hard you get knocked down but how fast you get up that really matters.”