Sometimes the road to success is littered with disaster. For 18-year old Richard Jenkins, homelessness and lots of humiliation tried to obstruct his path. Yet, while living in a shelter surrounded by hopelessness and despair, he reached for books as his way of escape. As word spread at school regarding his obsession with reading, bullies taunted him relentlessly and called him “Harvard” as a joke. But his enemies had NO IDEA they were actually prophesying his future ‘cause baby boy can now officially say, “Whaddup Harvard University! I’m on my way and my scholarship is PAID IN FULL!” My my my, look who got the last laugh on his way to real success!
Real success (the Bible actually calls it Good Success in Joshua 1:8) is not the same as famous, popular, wealthy or rich. And although real success can in some ways (and at times) encompass one or all of those elements, real success is so much more. I’m talking about the kind of success that, not only takes resilience and tenacity, but also includes failure, disappointment and suffering too. And when you allow your former struggles and achievements to grant you the extended power to help others, change lives and have some level of lasting impact on the community or the generation you serve…welcome to real success.
Everybody wants the by-products of real success, but everybody won’t dig deep enough to secure the roots it requires. Some would rather settle for get-rich-quick schemes or 15 minutes of fame, not realizing that it may be easy in the beginning but it’s brutal when it ends. Yeah, the road to real success may be painful at times, but it’s nothing compared to the rock bottom you hit when quick success comes tumbling down.
No one epitomizes real success quite like my boy Joseph does (book of Genesis, Chapter 37). He was mocked with the nickname “Dreamer” because he revealed his vision of leadership to a very hostile crowd. I mean, who goes around boasting to their brothers that one day they’ll “kiss the ring” like he’s The Godfather Don Corleone??? Well, Joseph paid a huge price for the jealousy he provoked, and it landed him right into a pit. No, I don’t mean figuratively, I mean really! He was betrayed by his own brothers and they threw his bragging butt into a pit and then sold him as a slave. And he must’ve been mighty swagalicious, because his master’s wife kept trying to get at him when her hubby wasn’t around. Joseph kept trying to tell her, “Yo! It ain’t that kind of party!” but all his integrity got him was a rape case and more time. But Joseph took the false accusation like a champ and did his bid without even putting up a fight. But just because he didn’t win the first round doesn’t meant he’d lose the whole match.
Joseph was doing the most behind bars! Word spread of his brilliant management skills and in no time he was head of all prisoner affairs. Pharaoh was told that Joseph could decipher dreams, which landed him a meeting with the highest ranking ruler of all the land.
Due to his successful interpretation, Joseph was given freedom and authority to outline and execute a 7-year preparation for the famine that was soon to come. His promotions came swiftly as his incredible gift of wisdom and foresight created national wealth. Starving nations from around the world had to come before Joseph in order to survive. Oddly enough, this long line of refugees would soon include his brothers too. The sibling they betrayed now had the power of revenge, but fortunately for them, Joseph had a heart of gold.
Joseph tearfully forgave his brothers as they trembled before him with fear and the penalty they deserved was instead met with these words, “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:19-21) Joseph went from being a brat to a prisoner to Egypt’s CEO…now that’s what I call real success!
There’s hardly a chance for real success without a bunch of ups and downs. Our troubles acquaint us with the problems in the world that God is equipping us to one day solve. So let the hard times that tried to wear you down become the tools to build you up. If your struggle is real, then you best believe, real success is part of the deal!
“…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4
“…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4