: The Danger of Success
2 Chronicles 26:1–28:27
Western culture is obsessed with success. Society places successful people on a pedestal, as if they’re somehow smarter or better than everyone else. Christians certainly aren’t immune to this trend, as is demonstrated by the growing celebrity-pastor following. The need to succeed can tilt a church out of balance when the leader or the donors with the deepest pockets become the focus, and ultimate authority, instead of Christ.
Uzziah’s story demonstrates the danger of success. Most of the kings of Judah prior to Uzziah—who was appointed king at the age of 16—failed God and His people. They achieved success in their own eyes, but biblical history paints them as men who were spiritually weak and sought their own gain at the sacrifice of others. Success achieved through force may look like strength, but it’s actually weakness. The distinction of great leaders is their ability to rise alongside those they lead, not over them.
At the beginning of his reign, Uzziah showed every sign of becoming a great leader: “And he did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh, according to all that Amaziah his father had done. And he began to seek God in the days of Zechariah who was teaching in visions of God. And whenever he sought Yahweh God made him have success” (2 Chr 26:4–5). Uzziah rose with his people, and he was willing to be taught by those he respected.
But then King Uzziah became proud: “But on account of his strength his heart grew proud unto destruction. And he acted unfaithfully against Yahweh his God” (2 Chr 26:16). Uzziah went so far as to place himself in the role of the priests; as a result, God afflicted him with leprosy. Instead of following God’s will as he always had, Uzziah let success—and the desire for ultimate authority—become his guide (2 Chr 26:16–21).
We should not judge success according to societal norms, but on our submission to God’s will and reign over our lives. We should question whether we are living up to our God-given potential and using our God-given gifts for His glory. And we should be cautious of pride—both in ourselves and others—so that we can discern whether confidence comes from self or from God, as it should.
What do you feel proud of? How can you be better at helping others rise with you?
John D. Barry
The Danger of Success
: The Danger of Success