Wrestling With Blessings | Thoughts on Success, Luck, Confidence, and Blessing

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  • What does it take to make a great man or woman?
  • How much of a person’s success is based on their work ethic, management, and skill?
  • When does self confidence begin to become an attribute that dishonors God?

All of these questions have been whirling around in my head lately.

As the New Year approaches, I’ve been forcing myself to review the status of my online business.  I honestly don’t track my business finances very well, so I can’t really tell you how much I’ve made this year.  Last week, my wife asked me how much I think I’ve made online this year, and I told her “I think it’s between X and Y,” with a huge number spread.

(Yuck. That will make tax time annoying).

I do know one thing without a doubt.

What I make is more than I deserve.

When I read about successful people, I read about everything they’ve done to become successful.  They point to things like long hours, hard work, obsession for perfection, passion, and persistence.

Hard work does bring results.  The Bible even reminds us to be like the ant that works hard.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. Proverbs 6:6–11.

I can affirm the fact that I’ve worked hard on my online business.  Two and a half years of waking up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. every morning attests to that.

Still, no matter how hard the ant works, if the Lord does not choose to bless him, it will be in vain.

Timothy Keller challenges our traditional approach to success when he writes:

We are the product of three things – genetics, environment, and our personal choices – but two of these three factors we have no power over.  We are not nearly as responsible for our success as our popular views of God and reality lead us to think.  Quoted in Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller Kindle.   Kindle Location 1392.

Let me share one of the most fascinating and perhaps insightful personal experiences I had this year.

Back in January of this year, I sent an email to my supporting church telling them that my business was going well, and as of January 2012, they wouldn’t need to support me any more.  I was going to be a tent making missionary.

However, at the end of February, my site suffered a serious setback with the Google Panda changes.

That setback caused me to reflect and re-evaluate the direction of this blog.

I concluded that I was an unfaithful servant because I didn’t use my resources (of experience and knowledge) for God’s glory with this blog.

I personally repented of this and even told my readers that I was switching gears and would focus on helping people transform their finances.

My wife and I talked long and hard about this, and we prayed about it together and concluded this was the right thing to do – even if my blog was not going to be profitable.

It was not pretty.  I even had to call our supporting church and tell them we’d need to change the plans of my becoming a tent making missionary because I didn’t see how I was going to make enough online.

It was a time of loss and mourning for me because I felt like I was giving up a dream (to have a business that would support me wherever I did ministry).

During that time, I felt like my dream died. I reoriented myself once again to the call of Christ and decided to seek first the kingdom of God.

Then the most fascinating thing happened.

Another income stream opened up.  A dormant blog became massively successful (in terms of profit).

For me, that was a clear indicator.

I am where I am – my business is what it is – because of the grace of God.

We talk about grace in our lives when we think of the sacrifice of Christ and the salvation he offers.  Yet, grace is broader.  Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve.

Grace is the unexpected, unmerited, and unnatural Kindness of God.

I don’t care what others say.  Success is God’s gift to us.  Perhaps we can block it by our laziness or greed or inability to do what is right.  But, we don’t create success.  We receive it.

Why does it matter?

It matters because we’ll act differently based on where we think our success comes from.

  • If it comes from our degree from the best university in the world, then it will lead to pride.
  • If it comes from the fact that we worked harder than anyone else we know, then it will lead to boasting.
  • If it comes from us, then we will get the credit.

I think far too often we turn success into something that promotes ourselves instead of God.  As such, success becomes dangerously close to becoming our idol.

But it doesn’t come from us.

  • If it comes from God, we will live our lives in thanksgiving.
  • If it comes from God, we’ll generously share what we have received.
  • If it comes from God, our daily worship is genuine.

More of your success is based on what God chooses to do for you and give to you than it is based on your own ability.

If you can work hard, it is because God gives you the endurance.  If you can get a good education, it is because God allowed you the resources to pay for it.  If you can make smart business decisions, it’s because God has given you the wisdom.

To God be all glory, and honor, and praise.


Who gets credit for your successes?  How do we balance between personal responsibility and a gift from God?


  1. Wes Smith says

    Thank you for the great article Craig. I appreciate you sharing your personal growth and learnings along the way. Keep up the good work!

  2. says

    AMEN! Excellent post! In fact, I am launching my third blog for the Kingdom on New Years. And this topic that you discussed is the primary subject or thread running through the blog. That it is all God and really none of us. Jesus said, because without Him we can do NOTHING! It is Him who gives us the supernatural anointed ability to even get wealth (or a crumb for that matter). That’s call GRACE (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expenses) through FAITH (Forsaking ALL I Trust Him).

    The name of my new blog will be called ‘UN-Spiritual’ Finances with Ricardo Butler. And the first post should be New Years Day (Lord willing) @ http://un-spiritualfinances.blogspot.com/

    This blog site is not another money blog site. It is a blog site to stir the hearts of God’s people to come together and become a financial global community, a corporate company, and body of spiritual entrepreneurs to help each other in this life under the Headship of the CEO, Christ Jesus!

    After the first two or three posts, I am launching a 12 Part series based upon Jesus overcoming the Strong Man and spoiling his goods.

    Thanks for the inspiration! Love you and Christ bless!

  3. Richard says

    If GOD is with us , who can stand against us? All Good Things Come from The Father.. If your not receiving ? Its only from your lack of asking.
    No Less than another Dozen Verses.. Verbatim or Paraphrased.. Come to mind…
    I struggle with many of them.. Why? They all come from the BIBLE…GOD only knows ( says)
    The Truth…..But I struggle , None The less, even with Knowing GOD’s truths..
    GOD is so explicit and yet at the very same time a Mystery…
    Why GOD , does or allows….. is most often a mystery to me…
    We so often equate GOD’s Blessing with some one’s Financial standing..
    Many of those Standing at the top $$$$, will even refer to their success as, a Blessing from GOD..
    Hummm .. Yet how should we view GOD when we know, that those Ble$$ings, included.. paying employees very…poorly.. Keeping The Lions Share for himSELF and giving grudgingly what little he does give, to his employees…
    Humm Christian Businessmen (sic) Why is it ? That they are best known ( famous) for paying everyone but themselves and family ( and not aways even family) so very poorly?
    Why is it so often seen with Christians, who have the biggest Issues, often Financial.. That we hear from them.. I Am Waiting On The Lord.. Just as we are told to do…In The Bible!
    YET so often , it would appear? These folks are nothing but Lazy…….
    Why is it ? That our ” Christian” (sic) Politicians have for some 40 years continued with the same “talking points” but even when having control of The Presidency and The House and The Senate.. NEVER manage to keep any of their promises?
    For me? Its a simple answer.. Once The Card is played.. Its off the table! IT..Cannot be used again, until The Next Shuffle…..hummmm
    I have a LOT of issues with Christians , who seem to Talk the Talk and seldom to ever Walk the Walk..
    We have over the years? Dropped our financial support of 3 Missionary Families..
    Families we feel are Living ? The perpetual Vacation…!!
    #1. A Young Couple.. Moved to Ma. to be among the student body at Browns..OK not a bad idea…Certainly a need for GOD’s Ambassador’s…there.
    Soon there after.. and after having Summers off for travel and Numerous “Breaks” throughout the year.. They picked up and left.. GOD’s calling they said… Humm To where?
    Providence Rhode Island! Humm Nice spot to relocate to.. $$$$ Vacation Land for sure…
    In and over time.. They Grew… From a couple, “both working with the student body”.. to …
    Mom and Dad and 1 child.. then 2 then 3 then 4 then… 5 .. and during that time we ALL received a letter.. Not the Quarterly letter but a Special Letter and Special Request.. A Request they had prayerfully…….. considered and were now asking us to do the same…
    Their desire was to Buy a Home.. a $450,000.00 home. In Providence.. One large enough to accommodate their Ever… GROOOOOWING family and allow for a meeting place for the students.. Their Prayer was ? To be able to pay CASH for this home.. Really?
    I sent a letter.. a long letter, and at the end, I told them, that we would not be sending them the needed $20,000.00 and would instead be dropping them from our list of families we support.. BTW.. Each Of these 3 Families have been as well DROPPED / Excluded from our Living Trust.. We tryyyyyyyyy to walk the walk.. NOT just talk the talk..
    2. The 2nd family.. On The Mission field in Greece.. No Doubt a pretty GOD less land and we supported them for years… But over time it became apparent That Dan? Wasn’t spending much time ( Focusing on ) Evangelizing.. If fact one of the supporters went to Greece and Visited Dan and his wife ( a Lawyer) and witnessed what Dad considered ?? Full Time Evangelical out Reach.. That Out Reach? It Consisted of 1 or 2 trips a week to the City Center.. and repeating the same old and tired , 1 hour…Chalk Board Presentation of the Gospel.. The REST of his time ( working hours) consisted of writing a 4 to 8 page US Politics Diatribe.. and the attempt to write Christian Based.. Children’s Books..
    Done! Gone! No More Support $$ from us and numerous others… See A Pattern???
    3. They? They were just On Vacation.. Seeing The World…
    If? IMHO your a Christian…
    1. You don’t buy on credit! Not STUFF anyways.. Your home for sure and maybe an AMERICAN Made Car..
    2. You support Americans , there by your best chance of supporting Christians $$$
    You don’t support $$$ Buddhist and Muslims and Other DEVIL Worshipers!
    You Support Christians…. You support one of the Very Few Nations in the World were Christians freely….Live and Gather and Work …
    3. You Never.. become Wealthy.. because you pay YOUR employees so little..
    Enough for today .. fear most of this goes over the heads of most..
    In Closing……I found this site after reading a site /blog..( a blog is most often where anyone holding the key and spew his or her garbage without comments being made to oppose or contradict that individuals perspective) I will Not supply a link to that Heresy because it was a “christian “small c” Lawyer advocating Gods acceptance for Christians filing Bankruptcy.. and using no less than 2 dozen VERY TWISTED Scripture Verses to do so.. For the direct benefit of his pocket $$$$

  4. Richard says

    Sir is that the best advice you could offer? I might suggest you read Dave Ramsey’s Book of CHRISTIAN Finance..
    Being Canadian you at least.. when you lived and worked in CANADA.. You Had Full Coverage Medical Insurance.. Your Insurance exceeded what over 65% of Americans Choose NOT to have ..and then spending instead on Cars and Toys and Incidentals .. when the storm comes they just want to bail out on their responsibilities.. They ? Many of THEM are just looking for people to agree with them.. Many do because its where they sit as well.. Tough Love is often… The Best Love.. ( think about it .. Christ Taught Just That!) Being Honest is not always the easiest road..
    Craig? Stand in the Gap.. Tell people what they need to hear … NOT just what they want to hear.. It begins otherwise to sound too much like so many Churches today..
    aka The Church of .. what ever makes the most happy… whatever is in vogue today..
    Always struggling stumbling even falling down, flat on my face… but aways getting back up.. looking for the light and listening for that small quite voice ..
    Never saying… I made some new choices today and its to.. Not bother paying you what I owe you… Paraphrase.. Christ could have said.. Rich Young Man? Who shall direct your choices? Your Wallet or Your GOD?
    The Next time any of you make your weekly purchases at walmart buying 80% Made in China by who? By CHrist Followers?? Really? Next time your out of work? Get a job at that same walmart! The one you stood up for all these years and accept that $9 an hour with No Medical Insurance.. and then read in your BIBLE about Meeting together supporting other believers.. hummmm phonies…

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