>Chapter four, “The Seduction of Success” was challenging, even if at points it seemed to rehash ideas from the previous chapters. In this chapter, Keller asserts that as we become successful, we also tend to become more self reliant (I’ve certainly seen that in my own life and ministry). Success can also lead to a false sense of security – a result of “deifying our achievement and expercting it to keep us safe from the troubles of life in a way that only God can” (pg, 75). Interestingly, he argues, this false sense of security makes it more difficult for successful people to deal with tragedy/crisis in their lives. “The poor and the marginalized expect suffering, they know that life on this earth is ‘nasty, brutish, and short.'” (pg. 75). Not so with those who have come to idolize their ability to achieve.
Sadly, I believe (and my group agreed with me – they don’t always), that in many ways the church has succumb to this worship of success and even perpetuated it. We idolize and imitate the ‘successful’ pastors and their church models, measuring success in the same way a business would. Faithful pastors of small, obscure churches don’t get published.
One of the points that Lynn and I were hit with is the necessity of making our home safe havens away from the pressure of the dog-eat-dog world our kids live in. It’s a hard balance to strike, and one we don’t always do successfully. We don’t want our kids to be lazy or complacent, but we need to be careful that we’re not pushing them beyond their abilities or with the wrong motivation (for the ‘A’ or to keep up with Johnny). I think this is something every parent needs to be wise and prayerfully about.
Keller ends with the chapter reminding the reader that “The biblical story of salvation assaults our worship of success at every point” (pg 94). The worship of success and achievement stands as a massive obstacle to accepting the gospel in the lives of many. We come to Christ with nothing but our sin, inability and need. We don’t achieve our salvation; it’s charity. That’s a hard pill to swallow, and it always has been. (Oh, and I think that’s a Buckeye in the poster!)