BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“And David realized that the LORD had made him king over Israel and had made his kingdom great for the sake of his people Israel. After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more wives and concubines, and he had many sons and daughters” (2 Samuel 5:12-13 NLT).
Success means different things to different people. Whatever way you look at success, it is one thing to achieve success but it is another thing to manage it successfully. It is not failure that destroys many people; it is their inability to manage success successfully. How do you manage your promotion, your new status, your financial blessing, your ministerial breakthrough, your political ascendancy, etc. so that it doesn’t destroy you? How do you handle the progress you have made, what you have achieved so that you don’t lose it and regret later?
Some husbands were faithful to their wives and responsible to their families until God deliver them from poverty; they lost the trust of their wives, and eventually, their marriages.
Some people, who have fallen from grace to grass, if they want to be honest with you, will tell you some mistakes they made that were responsible for their present misfortune. Their marriages are gone, their business ruined, their careers destroyed, their businesses ruined, their spiritual lives dead, etc. If they have another opportunity, they will avoid certain things they did in the past. But these people are still praying and waiting for another opportunity.
Looking at the main scripture above, I was pained by the fact that after David realized that God had confirmed him as king and blessed his kingdom, he married more concubines and wives and had more children. Though polygamy was the practice of the pagan nations around that time, David didn’t have to do this. Was it the right way for David to show appreciation to God? Was this how to manage success? Certainly not! David violated one of the principles God had given to govern kings in Israel. “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away” (Deuteronomy 17:17 NKJV).
When God has turned around the fortunes of many people, they begin to take decisions and steps contrary to the Word of God, and their success becomes the reason for their failure. That should not be your case.
For instance, David did not take the wife of any of his soldiers or committed adultery or murder when he was running from one place to the other from King Saul. It was after God had established him on the throne that he took Uriah’s wife and killed him. Hear what God said to him: “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun’” (2 Samuel 12:7-12 NKJV). Did you see that? This is so pathetic!
If David not done what he did, he and his family would not have experienced all the crises that followed that incident. After David admitted his guilt, God forgave him, but that didn’t free him from the consequences of his sin.
Look at another instance of wrong management of success by David. David didn’t commit the sin of conducting a census of Israelites until after his military exploits. He didn’t have to conduct that census. However, despite the effort of Joab, his army commander, to discourage him, he insisted. He regretted his action immediately after the census was concluded. “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly’” (2 Samuel 24:10 NKJV).
In the three-day plague that followed, which was the punishment David chose out of the three punishment options God gave him for his gross error, seventy thousand men of Israel were killed (1 Chronicles 21:4). That was a needless national tragedy which was caused by David’s error.
Why did David conduct the census? David’s had ulterior motive. The Amplified Bible says, “Now God was displeased with this act of [of arrogance and pride], and He struck Israel” (1Chronicles 21:7). According to The Message translation, “David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics” (2 Samuel 24:10). Don’t be arrogant and proud. Never replace your trust in God with statistics.
David had never attributed his military exploits to his military prowess or the strength of his army. He had always acknowledged the help of God. Because of this ego-trip of David, as you have seen, the LORD was angry with David. The plague God brought upon Israel killed seventy thousand men. That was an avoidable loss.
The Bible makes us know that Satan was behind it all. “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1, NKJV). The Amplified Bible says, “Satan [an adversary] stood up against Israel and stirred up David to number Israel” (1Chronicles 21:1). Be sensitive; don’t let satan tempt you to violate the Word of God.
Adam didn’t eat the forbidden fruit until God delivered him from being alone. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’” (Genesis 2:18 NKJV). The Lord gave him a wife. Unfortunately, the relationship that was supposed to be a blessing became a curse! When God queried Adam why he ate the fruit, Adam, indirectly blaming God, replied, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12 NKJV). How do you handle or manage what God has blessed you with so that it doesn’t destroy you? How do you ensure that what is meant to make life easier for you does not become what turns your back against God or draws you away from Him?
Noah didn’t get drunk when he was building the ark which took him about 100 years to complete (Genesis 5:32; 7:11). Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person on earth (Genesis 6:9; 7:1). Noah faithfully and diligently carried out the assignment God gave him. There is no record that he was a drunk. But Noah got drunk after the flood. “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness” (Genesis 9:20-23 NKJV). Just think about that! What came upon Noah? Was it burnout? He got drunk and exposed his nakedness. That is what sin does – it brings shame and ridicule. Just as Adam and Eve after eating the fruit knew of their nakedness and became ashamed, Noah’s sin exposed his nakedness.
When Noah woke up from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him, he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham, who didn’t cover his father’s nakedness, but went to tell his brothers. Noah visited the sin of the father on the son, and blessed Ham’s brothers, Shem and Japheth (verses 24-27).
You might say what sin did Canaan commit, other than being the son of Ham, whose action displeased his father, Noah? The Bible does not tell us why. We don’t know if Canaan was involved in his father’s sin. But Before this time, God had blessed Noah and his sons, Ham’s inclusive (Genesis 9:1). Possibly that was why Noah didn’t curse Ham, Canaan’s father, but cursed Canaan.
It could be that Noah’s curse was a prophetic utterance of the future of Canaan since God knew ahead the wickedness of the Canaanite nation. Therefore, Noah put a curse of slavery on Canaan, which took effect several years later – Israel possessed the land of Canaan! However, the Bible does not tell us exactly why Noah cursed his grandson.
The lesson from Noah’s drunkenness is, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). You must therefore “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil (Ephesians 6:11 NLT).
Solomon loved the Lord when he was still new on the throne. “And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places” (1 Kings 3:3 NKJV). God even appeared to him twice. “And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, that the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon” (1 Kings 9:1 KJV).
During God’s first appearance to him in his dream at Gibeon, Solomon had asked God for wisdom to rule the people of Israel (1Kings 3:9). God gave him wisdom and understanding heart, that there would not be anyone like him, before him or after him. He also gave him what he didn’t ask for – riches and honor so that there would not be anyone like him among the kings all his days (1 Kings 3:12-13).
Nevertheless, after his success, including twenty years of building the Temple and his palace (1 Kings 9:10), Solomon went astray and started loving many foreign women who, when he was old, turned his heart against God. “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites — from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8 NKJV). What a heart-breaking story! What a compulsive desire for women! Can you believe that Solomon had 300 wives and 700 concubines as recorded in verse 3? What a scandalous obsession! What would he do with them?
What Solomon did was a negative turn of event not expected of someone like him who had been privileged to have unique spiritual experiences. “So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded” (verses 9-10 NKJV).
To punish Solomon, God decided to tear the kingdom away from him and gave it to his servant (verse 11). He raised against him, an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, (verse 14) and made Jeroboam rebel against him (verses 26-40). Your life shall not become a sad commentary, in the name of Jesus. Those who have seen your rise shall not see your fall.
King Uzziah did what was right in the sight of the Lord and he was so successful in all ramifications that the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong” (2 Chronicles 26:15 NKJV). What happened after this? He couldn’t manage his success. His success entered to his head. “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense” (verse 16).
God helped Uzziah marvelously until he became strong, but he messed up a glorious reign. Because he was successful as a king, he probably thought that he could get away with anything he did. Every attempt by Azariah, the priest, and other eighty priests of the Lord, to discourage him from burning incense to the LORD, an assignment meant for priests who were the sons of Aaron consecrated to burn incense, failed (verses 17-18).
For intruding into the office of a priest, God’s judgment came upon Uzziah. He became leprous, and consequently couldn’t enter the house of God from that time. He lived and died in isolation. He couldn’t even be buried where kings were buried (verses 19-23).
Prior to the time that God helped Uzziah marvelously, such that his fame spread abroad, he didn’t go beyond his bounds by intruding into the office of a priest. However, his success became his undoing. He couldn’t manage success. He became proud and desecrated the Temple of God. He paid dearly for it.
Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t manage his success (Daniel 4:19-37). A man’s pride shall bring him low. His pride will cause him humiliation (Proverbs 29:23). Daniel had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams concerning his deposition. Twelve months after, Nebuchadnezzar was walking about the royal palace of Babylon when he said proudly, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30 NKJV). By this proud declaration, Nebuchadnezzar brought upon himself the fulfillment of the dream he had. God removed him as king because of pride; he failed to acknowledge that God enabled him to build Babylon and not by his power.
Compare Nebuchadnezzar’s boast to Cyrus’ humble acknowledgment of God working through him. Cyrus said, “All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me…” (2 Chronicles 36:23 NKJV). Ezra 1:2 records the same statement. Cyrus didn’t say he came to power through his personal efforts or built the kingdom by his power. That was why he could cooperate with God to release the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity and funded the rebuilding of the house of God at Jerusalem with the king’s resources. He said God had commanded him to build Him a house at Jerusalem which was in Judah (2 Chronicles 36:23). Cyrus was humble in success.
Because of his pride, Nebuchadnezzar spent seven seasons in the forests with animals. God later restored him to the throne. In Daniel 4:37, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” He was speaking from first-hand experience.
Unfortunately, Belshazzar, his son, did not learn from him. Because of pride, he lost his life in a palace coup. You’ll find that story in Daniel 5:18-31. Pride leads to downfall. Hear how God brought Edom down because of her pride: “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ says the LORD” (Obadiah 2-4 NKJV).
How to manage your success
1.Acknowledge God as the source of your success. As we have seen Uzziah, Nebuchadnezzar and his son, Belshazzar made mistakes. They lost their thrones because of pride. “No one will succeed by strength alone. Those who fight against the LORD will be broken” (1 Samuel 2:9-10 NLT). No matter the level of success you achieve, never fail to acknowledge God as your source every time. A river that forgets its source will soon dry. “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT).
2. Engage in thanksliving. By thanksliving, I mean an attitude of thanksgiving daily. This reminds you constantly of your source and keeps you regularly humble. You are to give “thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20 NKJV).
Proud people don’t give thanks because they wrongly believe that they deserve what they have; they believe they’ve labored for whatever they’ve acquired. Thank God for your intelligence, your diligence, your prayer and fasting, your discipline, etc. Despite all this, you could still have gotten a disappointing result. Give credit to God. “Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to become rich, and he does it to fulfill the covenant he made with your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NLT).
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (NKJV). The Message translation renders it thus: “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall” Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (NKJV). God will destroy those who don’t make Him their strength but trust in their abundant riches (Psalm 52:5-7). There is nothing you have that you have not received from Him. Pride has made many people a “yesterday people” They used to be this; they used to be that but they are now a shadow of themselves. No condition is permanent. But you shall rise and rise in Jesus’ name. Your fortune shall not dwindle. You shall not be consigned to the dustbin of history while you’re still alive.
3. Keep the Word of God in your heart. If you’ll keep the Word of God in your heart, you will not sin against him. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11 NKJV). God took the kingdom away from Saul because he disobeyed His word. “‘How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have disobeyed the command of the LORD your God. Had you obeyed, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the LORD’s command’” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NLT). Your success should not blind your mind to the Word of God. “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed” (Joshua 1:8 NLT).
4. Don’t lose your focus; don’t compromise on standards or quality. “If the godly compromise with the wicked, it is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring” (Proverbs 25:26 NLT). Never lower your standards or quality of service or product. Monitor your product or service. Be sure quality is not dropping after you’ve reached a level of success. Just as people succeed over time, they can also fail over time. Watch it that you are not losing your goodwill, support, patronage, referrals, etc. because of dwindling quality. If you fail to pay attention to quality control, the same way people started speaking glowingly about you – your product or service – the same way they will start spreading bad news about you. The consequence will become evident in no distant time. That is how organizations reputed to be doing very well before go down.
Do the right thing not what boosts your popularity. Don’t be carried away or deceived by the publicity or attention people are giving you. Popularity is fleeting. “Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more” (Ecclesiastes 4:13 NKJV). If you don’t manage your success well, you will have ego problem which will destroy you. Give priority to building your character above maintaining your popularity.
5. Don’t worship your success. Worship God not success. The Bible says, “If your wealth increases, don’t make it the centre of your life” (Psalm 62:10b NLT). Your success should not become the reason for your living; God should. “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11 NLT).
If you want to continue to succeed, never lose your grip on God; you need God’s continued presence in your life. “David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the LORD was with him” (1 Samuel 18:14 NLT).
6. Never forget your humble beginning. Always remember where you started – your yesterday. God always reminded the children of Israel that He brought them out of Egypt – that is they were once slaves; they were once strangers. “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21 NKJV). See also Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 10:19. If you remember that you were somewhere before your current success, it will help you to avoid any misbehavior or attitude that can send you back to square one.
7. Share your success with others. Help others to succeed. Don’t be selfish. Share with others. Be always “ready to share with others whatever God has given” you (1 Timothy 6:18 NLT). Invest in others spiritually, financially and materially. Proverbs 28:12 says, “When the godly succeed, everyone is glad” (NLT). Let your success bring joy to others. Make others successful also.
Jesus illustrated greed in the story of a rich fool who was blessed with an overflowing harvest but made plans to enjoy it himself alone and wasn’t rich towards God. The rich fool said, “I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” (Luke 12:18-19 NLT). This Rich fool had no plan to affect anyone positively with his sudden success; he must have thought he deserved it having worked so hard on his farm. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ ‘Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (verses 20-21NLT).
This man’s succeed destroyed him because he couldn’t manage success. Help others to succeed. “Don’t be selfish” (Philippians 2:3 NLT).
8. Don’t take people for granted. People are precious, even to God because He created man in His own image. “What are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us?” (Psalm 8:4 NLT). Psalm 144:3 asks a similar question: “O LORD, what are mortals that you should notice us, mere humans that you should care for us?” (NLT). Man is the only creature made in the image of God. Don’t get to a place in successful attainment that you begin to despise people, talk to them anyhow, etc. As high and mighty as God is, He doesn’t despise anyone. Job 36:5 says it this way: “God is mighty, yet he does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding” (NLT).
After God, you need human beings to succeed in life and to keep succeeding. You should therefore value people – your staff, your team, your management, your clients, your customers, your members, your friends, etc. Don’t see yourself as a super star, a celebrity; don’t look down on others or those who come around you. Treat everybody with dignity. Don’t lose people before you begin to appreciate them for their contribution to your life or success.
9. Maintain the right relationships. It is not everybody who is glad at your success. Success will attract to you friends and foes in business, ministry, politics or any other human endeavour. Not all will come to you with righteous motives. Some will come to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10). They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Yet there are others who will be a blessing to you and take your home, ministry, business, destiny to the next level. Nobody comes into your life and leaves you the same. “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20 NLT). Therefore, be careful about the persons you employ, award jobs to, draw close to you, or make your friends. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26 NKJV).
10. Be prayerful. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing” (NKJV). There are so many things to pray about. Pray against errors that can cause you setback. Pray against wrong company. Pray against temptations. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 KJV). Never be engrossed in the enjoyment of your success or the pursuit of greater success that you relent from praying. “Always be prayerful” (Romans 12:12 NLT).
11. Don’t be complacent. Don’t rest on your laurels. You must go beyond maintaining your success to replicating it. You must not only be fruitful; you must multiply (Genesis 1:28). But you must be careful not to compare yourself with others. “But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV).
Conclusion: Proverbs 4:18 says that the way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. That should be your experience in life. You should not succeed to fail or rise to fall. You should succeed and continue to succeed. I believe this message will help you to manage your success and not mismanage it. Your glory shall not turn to shame in Jesus’ name. What is making you laugh will not make you weep.
If you are not born again, I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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