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Life is certainly full of ups and downs, isn't it? One day we can feel like we’re on the mountaintop of success, and the next day we may drop into a pit of depression and despair. We run to God in the hard times. We pour out our hearts to our friends and ask people to pray for us when we are struggling, but what about those times on the mountaintop? What should we do when we enter into seasons of success? How do we navigate a relationship with God that is reflective of His grace, and how do we interact with friends during those seasons, especially friends who may be struggling. I find that during seasons of joy I am more prone to be lax in my relationship with God than in seasons of difficulty. Anyone with me on that?
"Grace in success" is a topic that I’ve actually been thinking about a lot lately, because I’m living in it. This time last year I was struggling. I had just finished up a year long contract at a great job, and the contract wasn’t going to be renewed. I was looking at our savings, constantly obsessing over how long we could survive. I was applying for just about every nonprofit job I could find. I learned a lot about myself during that time, and I had to lean into the Lord for every penny. In September, when I landed a job that was exceedingly more than I could ask or imagine, I knew the reason why God had me wait during that season.
Well, fast forward to this month. As of Friday I was named interim director at my job while my supervisor is on family leave. After 8 months, I have suddenly had senior leadership handed to me, and part of me is scared out of my mind. The other part of me feels pretty good. After only 8 months, I was trusted to lead our team. I’ve worked really hard in my career, and I’m so grateful to be given a new challenge, a new opportunity.
However, I am realizing that humility and grace are needed as much in this season as they were in the tough times last year. I don’t want to forget about what God has brought me through, and I don’t want to forget about the people He has used in that process. Here are three things I’m going to focus on during this “season of accomplishment”.
Humility: “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10. I want to start with humility. A humble person is a person who knows that God gives blessings. I plan to put God at the head of my life, and put others’ needs before my own.
Praise: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips who openly praise His name.” – Hebrews 13:15. I know that praising God for the blessings he’s given me and my family is paramount in staying focused on His grace. I also think about praise in the context of praising others as well - good leaders shower their people with honest praise. I hope to practice both of these in this season.
Discipline: “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” Psalm 5:3. Discipline to spend time in prayer and reflection before God before I start each day will keep me focused on who I am serving and why I do what I do. I know without these spiritual disciplines I will take my eyes away from the Lord.
So there you have it - three words that I hope I can focus on in this season. How do you stay focused on the Lord during seasons of accomplishment and success?
Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker. She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals. She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia. She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.
You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog www.emilylaney.com