No Secrets to Success

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell

Recently, I meandered through an airport bookstore while I waited for a connecting flight. I was amazed how much stuff was jammed into one of those little stores. All the food items from bananas to Z Bars were strategically placed at eye level. The walls were plastered with flashy magazine covers touting the greatest business or management insights collected from top names in industry. I have a tendency to flash-read the articles while paging through the magazines. Most of the time, the articles summarize the 'top ten' things or the 'fantastic finds’ creating the illusion that leading during tumultuous times can be accomplished in effortless, simple, easy ways. The slick packaging reduces enormous human endeavors to the sterile academic environment. What the printed stories often leave out is the blood and guts of how the wisdom was actually gleaned or the cost of having such incredible business acumen.  

There’s nothing like the wisdom of shared experience.

The biblical account of the rise and fall of the Shepherd Boy-Musician-Warrior-Superstar-King could be read like one of those biographies available at the bookstore. Each chapter of 1 & 2 Samuel recounts the rise of King David’s kingship, first over Judah and then over all Israel. As a bonus, those action-packed chapters also include the major challenge to David’s superstar role—his own sins. I wish I could summarize it and make it easy for you. But, then I would leave out all the blood and guts. God has a way of applying his word to our daily lives with personal precision. There is a big difference between reading scripture and a biography. I believe we can be tempted to create messages that minimize the impact of scripture by trying to be like those slick magazine articles. I just won’t do that to you.

David was successful. God blessed David. God’s blessing allowed for great military advances which expanded the Kingdom of Israel. Some very saucy narratives are sprinkled in-between the expansionist military success stories. One scenario from 2 Samuel 9 includes what I consider a shrewd political move by David. The king invited the crippled son of his best friend to live with him in the palace: "to dine at his own table.” Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son and the grandson of Saul. Inviting the remaining remnant of the enemy to live within the palace was pure genius in my mind. “Keep your friends close—but keep your enemies closer.” Thanks Sun Tzu. The second divulgence from 2 Samuel 11 is so brilliantly written I fear we lose the impact of what really happened. Chapter 11 is blood and guts—pure and simple. Hearts were broken. Careers and lives were eternally affected. The complex reality of human depravity all but destroyed the shining career of a hopeful superstar and left many who rode on his coat tails wondering what could have been.

Been there. Done that.

The blood and guts is what makes this narrative so applicable in every age. I wish this drama had a story book ending and everyone involved lived happily ever after. But, that’s not the case. The temptation may be to single out the ‘greatest moments’ of David’s life and career and only identify with David's success. But, I believe God also wants us to identify with his lowest moments. The ‘top ten things you need to know’ or the ‘fantastic finds’ are discovered during the deepest, darkest valley moments. These are often the ones that create the greatest impact because they are deeply personal. We can identify with moments like these because we trudged through them ourselves and lived to tell the story.

So, settle in. Sit back in your chair. Allow the Spirit free access to your mind, heart and soul as you read 2 Samuel 9-12. Create your own article. I’ll look for it next time I’m at the airport.

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. Psalm 51:16-17 The Message