No one likes to struggle and everyone wants to climb the ladder and succeed. Yet we fail to acknowledge that success can be difficult, even dangerous. I'm not saying that we should only desire struggle or that success is bad. I am saying that success can become something unintended. The universal desire to succeed is not wrong, but it can become corrupt and ultimately lead to failure. The difficulty arises when improper motives lead to misplaced worship.
Gideon's initial idea of success was modest – thresh wheat without having it stolen by the Midianites or the Amalekites. This was a modest endeavor and it certainly was not a bad thing to try and succeed at... people need to eat. He was working hard and trying his best to survive. He demonstrated creativity as he worked toward the goal in a wine press which is not the normal location for threshing wheat. It seems that he was succeeding even if it might only be temporary. But, Gideon was about to experience success on a level that he had only heard about and dreamed of (Judges 6:13). God was about to deliver his people once again in spite of their disobedience and he would use Gideon to accomplish his work.
It seems that there was no expectation of success and Gideon was not confident in God or his abilities. He made excuses about his clan and his position. He even put God to the test and asked for multiple signs. This "Man of Valor" did not believe that he would succeed and it seems that he was more comfortable with struggling and suffering. However, this attitude and posture changed dramatically after Gideon experienced success.
The danger wasn't evident when the vast majority of his army dwindled down to only three hundred men. It didn't manifest even when God gave him confirmation through an enemy's dream. Gideon's failure came after his success in defeating the Midianite army and refusing to rule the people. The success the people experienced was worshiped instead of God. Garments and gold were prized more than God. Gideon made an ephod to commemorate his success and it became a snare (Judges 8:27).
If our identity and value is found in success or the praise of peers, the truth is missed and the danger of success becomes deadly.
What's your motivation for success?
Are you looking to success for satisfaction and meaning instead of God?