Thrive Thought: Biblical Definition of Success

Biblical Definition of Success

Most adults—Christians and non-Christians—associate the word “success” with monetary and material increase, social status and power, popularity, happy family, lots of friends, and many more identifiers the world continues to create. A recent random survey shows 98% of young university graduates exhibit life ambitions similar to the older population. Most of these young adult participants are from Christian homes! As Christians, are our barometers for measuring success in alignment with biblical meaning of success? If we are wrong in our understanding, our children definitely will copy the wrong path.

God’s Definition of Success vs. the World’s View

The world’s definition of success is misleading because it focuses on what is temporary and ignores what is eternal and lasting—a perspective that leads to misery (Matthew 16:26).

In contrast, the Bible defines success in terms of what is spiritual, lasting, and ends in eternal life and joy (Matthew 16:19-20; John 3:16; 15:11; 16:25). While worldly success is centered on the promotion and gratification of ourselves, biblical success is grounded in obedience to and glorification of God (Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

God desires to bless us with wealth and things associated with it, but He cares more that we make it to eternity by obeying His command. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says the sure path to good success is to seek His Kingdom and righteousness first, and other things will be added unto us. Good success is obedience to God, empowered by the Spirit of God, motivated by love for God, and directed toward the advancement of the Kingdom. To put it concisely, good success is accomplishment approved by God. Success that breaks God’s law in any form is bad success.

Some Biblical Keys for Good Success:

  1. Understand God’s principles for true success, and use them. Successful people feast on God’s Word. Developing an intimate relationship with Jesus is the only way to true success.
  2. Character: godly character yields good fruit abundantly. Without God, we cannot produce good success. (Romans 13:7)
  3. Wisdom: the master key to true success is: “Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7, 3:15). Let God approve you like He did Solomon, who chose wisdom and was blessed abundantly. (Proverbs 4:7, Colossians 2:3)
  4. Meditate on God’s law day and night, and do all that is written in God’s law.
  5. Stewardship: We are to use every gift He bestowed on us (wealth, positions of authority, talents, spiritual gifts, etc.) to make disciples for Jesus.

With further investigation, we will see that nowhere in the Scripture is success correlated with the perspectives of the world.


Now that we have gained more spiritual insight, how does this change our view of success? How will it change the way we mentor God’s children, to give them an early head start on what is really important (eternal life), and how to be successful according to God’s definition? If we teach our children the ways of the Lord when they are young, they will keep their faith when they grow older (Proverbs 22:6). Our children mimic what they hear and see.

Children are important gifts to us from God. Perhaps we can start our stewardship by discipling them on how to pursue success at their young age.

Dr. Christie Dike, retired, is an active member of Pathway Community Church’s Thrive Ministry in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is blessed with a surviving son, Roy Dike, and spent her professional life teaching in higher education.


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