When my grandson, Caden, was about three years old, he and our family were in a park in Redding. As we were getting ready to leave, Caden was very slow in getting from the park trail to the car. To get him moving, I decided to pull out some of my high-level motivational skills and said:
“Caden, let’s race!”
He did not move at all. I knew I needed to take my words to a greater level, so I said:
“Caden, I’m winning!”
Still no movement. Without skipping a beat, Caden said:
“I’m winning too!”
“Wow,” I thought. “Caden is in last place, and he thinks he is a winner. He has some strong beliefs!”
Caden thought he was a winner because he was not in the same race as his grandpa. He was winning the “race” of what three-year-olds do (looking at rocks, leaves, birds, etc.).
Many think they are failures and losers because they don’t know what race they are in. If we think we are in the race to be the most popular, to be the most beautiful, to have the most money, or to be considered the most successful, then we will almost certainly believe we are losing at life in some way.
One of God’s main pathways to becoming stronger in leadership and influence is for us to become successful on the inside when we don’t look successful on the outside. I remember when God highlighted this in me in the early ’90s while I was pastoring in Central Nevada. At that time, I thought it was an inconvenient season to develop this inner success. Many aspects of my life at the time were telling me I was not “winning too,” but a failure:
I had an unsuccessful car
My salary was not successful
My hair was starting to be unsuccessful (ha ha)
My church size was not successful
Our home, a single-wide older trailer, was not successful
I heard, “Now is the time to believe you are a winner and start winning in your emotions like never before.” As my wife Wendy says, emotions don’t validate truth; they just validate what I believe to be true. It was a season to learn to prosper in my soul. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Soul prosperity is the biblical wording for this winning on the inside of ourselves. We are told our physical health and our prosperity in all things results from us prospering in our souls. Wow, that is an incredible promise and an incredible direction for our lives.
Here are three ways to prosper in your soul:
Identify the season you are in – What is happening in us is more important than what is happening through us. As we can put language to what God is doing in us, we will know what race we are in at this time.
Celebrate progress, not perfection – The religious and perfectionistic mindset only celebrates and becomes joyful with perfection, but families celebrate progress.
Reject worldly standards for “success” – Success is not a goal to be attained but a state of being. While we know God desires to bless us in every way, we are to reject seeking success instead of Him as well as the temptation to get our identity from these blessings.
Caden said, “I’m winning too!” Why don’t you say that right now? They are life-changing words.
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Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.