I’ve almost finished the 2010 biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. According to the author, Bonhoeffer was fascinated by the way people worship success. He experienced firsthand the fickleness of the crowds at bullfights when he was in Spain; one minute roaring for the toreador, the next, for the bull. In 1938, just after the infamous Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer, disheartened by the inability of the Church to be bold and firm in the face of opposition and suffering, wrote in an Advent letter:
‘…God’s cause is not always the successful one…we really could be “unsuccessful” and yet be on the right road. But this is where we find out whether we have begun in faith or in a burst of enthusiasm.’ Pg. 318.
After the fall of France, many understood that Hitler was destroying Germany through success.
Hitler himself saw his success as ‘Providential.’ Bonhoeffer had a different view:
With a frankness and off-handedness which no other earthly power could permit itself, history appeals in its own cause to the dictum that the end justifies the means…
The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.
Bonhoeffer, pg 363
Calvary by Jan Bruegel, c.1610
It is not your business to succeed, but to do right. When you have done so the rest lies with God.