Success of any kind—more money, greater achievement, more recognition, more praise, and, especially, more power and influence—can (it doesn’t have to, but it can) put us in a precarious place. Success can turn us in on ourselves. We begin to believe our own press releases, or think that our glowing performance reviews are the whole truth about us, or become convinced that our worth comes from the awards we’ve won and the bonuses we’ve received, or fall for the illusion that our shiny, public persona is the sum and substance of who we are, conveniently forgetting our darker motivations, our gnawing fears, and our festering sins. Our success can make us blind and deaf to the truth about ourselves, the needs of the world, and the presence and will of God.
We often think of failure, setbacks and disappointments as wake-up calls, as times to reevaluate what we are doing with our lives and why, to remember or discover who we are and what matters to us, to look ourselves in the mirror and to come to terms with what we see, to open ourselves to the counsel of others, and to see what hard lessons our struggles might have for us.
Success and wealth should similarly be wake-up calls—times to be sure that money or power or recognition aren’t going to our heads and hearts, to touch base again with our values, to ask about our responsibilities to the world, to listen even more carefully to the voice of God.