The secret of success

I am standing at my artwork when the man returns.

He is smartly dressed, short and stocky, with sleepy eyes and silver hair. Somehow he has extracted himself from the crowd in the reception area and come back to look over again how I visually captured the meeting we were just in.

“The best I’ve ever seen,” he says quietly with a slight accent. “And I’ve seen this many times.”

I’m not quite sure how to react. I mumble my thanks. It’s hard to process that I’ve just been complimented by the Secretary General of the U.N.

Later, on the drive home, my spirit is still buoyed by the encounter. I am analyzing why I am so happy. There is, of course, the excitement of meeting someone famous and important to the world. But the far deeper joy comes from wonder – from the sheer impossibility that I should be in such a place.

Because I remember.

I remember my situation eight years ago, with a failing career. Desperate. Financially challenged. Without a clue as to how to resurrect it. Then God stepped in.

I see this same amazement and gratitude in the prayer of Hannah:

            He raises up the poor from the dust;
                  he lifts the needy from the ash heap
            to make them sit with princes
                 and inherit a seat of honor.
            For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
                 and on them he has set the world. (1 Samuel 2:8)

She knew her changed life was a blessing from the hand of the Lord.

It’s amusing (and somewhat pathetic) how often someone writes a book to codify his success story. Five steps to attaining wealth and fame! It worked for me! It’s as if we can grab our own collars and lift ourselves off the ground. I don’t downplay the efficacy of talent, dedication, hard work, timing, goal setting and the like. (I am, at heart, an ambitious person.) I just know from a long freelance career that they aren’t enough.

And that’s why on my drive home, I pour my happiness out in praise. Look what you’ve done, Lord! Look where you have brought me! This is all about God’s goodness and faithfulness – the pillars that hold up the world.

Success is a gift from God. The extravagance of that present – as enjoyable as it is – ultimately brings our hearts to the generosity of the Giver. Like all the other abundant blessings we daily receive, it is fundamentally meant to be relational, deepening our love for Him.

It's a secret just begging to be told.

Father, help us to see in our successes your hand of love. We thank you for all the ways you rescue us and raise us up. Your faithfulness and goodness uphold us. We are constantly amazed by how much you love us!

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it!

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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