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Redeemed & Restored: Consumed by Success … Another Amazing Full Circle

Another amazing full circle.

God has been nudging me to get my very first book updated and back into print. It’s been a little less than 20 years since the first edition of Consumed by Success came out and I took a brave stand against the multi-level marketing (MLM) business model.


To read the words I penned all those years ago brought back a flood of emotions. So many insights given by God as I realized how deceived I had been in my stride to the top of three different network marketing organizations. Even though I experienced great success monetarily, I could not deny the scriptures that brought my house of cards tumbling down.


Re-reading the part of the story where God spoke so clearly to me from a book on our shelf was surreal. Too many times in my years of being in business as a Christian, I fought against the lack of money with more bright ideas to make more. And I’m afraid that is common with us Christians. If God dries up the funds, we are more than vulnerable to being deceived by the enemy of our souls with “another way out” like MLM or some other compromise.


Even today in the publishing business, there are times when funds are lacking and in comes a potential manuscript that would be a compromise to publish. Either doctrinally or putting our name on a message that we don’t really endorse, the temptation is always there and the enemy would love for me to let my guard down and take the easy way out.


I believe when God dries up the finances, He wants us to come to Him and surrender, being open to what He may be saying, instead of running ahead of Him. And running ahead is exactly what we encouraged people to do in the way we presented the MLM opportunity. Here’s a little peek into the story…


When we believed in the free enterprise system, we were convinced that a regular job, where you have to punch a time clock and be submitted to a boss, was the worst kind of life. It had no freedom, no independence, no joy, no future. In our presentations we’d raise fear that with an ordinary job, a person would never have enough money to get ahead. We reminded them of the “important” things in life: a big house, a fancy car, private schools, and fun family vacations.


At one point, Chuck and I created a slide show for our opportunity meetings. It started out asking, “Whatever happened to the American Dream?’’ It then painted the following picture of discontent and frustration: “Back in the early 1900s only ten percent of the population had to work for an employer. Since then, almost all of us have been sold on the idea that a steady job in a large company is the way to achieve our dreams. We call that the corporate dream, and it’s a lie! It is a deception designed to benefit those organizations for which we work.”


With rhythmic precision, the slide show progressed to talk about the corporate ladder and how few positions there are at the top. “If anyone is going to get those positions, it will be a relative of the owner. What about all the politics you have to play to move up? The big corporations make you promises and then never keep them. You can’t put your trust in them.”


When insecurity about the future had been raised, we’d let them know that they could trust network marketing. It wasn’t just a way. It was held up as the only way.


We’d ask, “Who dictates the kind of car you drive? The kind of home you live in? The kind of education you give your children? The amount of money you’re able to give to the ministries or charities of your choice? The kind of vacations you take? And how about retirement?”


The answer to those questions was designed to cause discontent and insecurity in the audience. “Your boss determines those things by what he pays you!”


By this time, people felt dissatisfied and angry about their bosses, their jobs, and their lack of financial freedom. Then we would zero in by asking questions like “Are you keeping your head above debt level? Are you living from paycheck to paycheck? Is it ever going to get any better?” We’d raise the possibility of mergers, takeovers, cutbacks, layoffs, transfers, demotions, and unfair evaluations. “Would a cold, calculated decision to eliminate your job be devastating to you?”


We really rubbed it in by suggesting that most couples have handled these problems by sending Mom back to work. When she’s away from the house eight to ten hours a day, the children no longer have the advantage of a full-time mother at home. She misses the experiences of helping the children develop, and by the time she does get home from work, she’s tired and has to play catch-up.


“Once you calculate all the taxes, babysitters, second car payment and maintenance, lunches out, and additional wardrobe,” we’d point out, “Mom is only making about one dollar an hour to help pay the bills.” Then, just before we made our case for network marketing, we would throw some salt in the wound. The next slide would read: 


The majority of Americans:

• Never establish an emergency savings fund

• Never get out of debt

• Can’t afford to buy a house

• Can’t afford to start their own business

• Can’t afford to send their children to private school or college

• Can’t fund the ministries or charities of their choice

• End up in poverty in their old age

• And die never having enough money to make their dreams come true


The next slide confirmed those statements with statistics. 


Out of every 100 people at age 65:


• 54 percent have to live off others

• 36 percent are dead

• 5 percent are still working

• 4 percent are well off

• 1 percent are wealthy


And then the kicker: “How are you doing so far?”


By this time, every person in the audience was dissatisfied and discontented. 


Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the statistics aren’t true. Many people are unhappy with their current employment. But what if our job situation is just one of many ways the Lord purifies our motives and teaches us to be obedient and thankful in all circumstances? What if He is using our jobs to make us more like Him—meek and humble? 


In “Hearing God,” author and pastor Peter Lord says:


God is more interested in the development of your character than he is in changing your circumstances. God’s committal to us centers around conformity to Christ. God is not interested in helping us develop a philosophy of escape from problems by more dependence on Him. He wants us to have a philosophy of triumph in overcoming problems.


Therefore, you can expect that God’s wisdom to you will deal more with the development of your character than with circumstances. He knows that when Christ is in charge in you, the circumstances will change you. He may or may not change the circumstance.


Are you asking God to give you a new job because of adverse conditions where you are at present? Often it is not his will to change your circumstances. He uses those circumstances to transform you!


I cannot deny that the presentations we led were calculated to make people covet what someone else has and become discontent with what they have. We were not living by Colossians 3:5, Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (ESV)


Here we are, 20 years later, and MLMs continue to appeal to our pride, our greed, and our discontentment with our lot in life. Why is it so hard for so many to see this?


Have you ever struggled with trusting God to provide to the point of compromise on your part? Have you experienced this type of temptation causing covetousness in your heart? What did you learn from that experience?


Oh, and one more thing, as this full circle moment is put in motion, I’d sure appreciate if you could pray for me as I finalize this third edition of the message with a new title: Empty at the Top: Exposing Spiritual Dangers of Multi-Level Marketing.


Thanks for spending some time with me today!


Athena Dean Holtz
Welcome, I'm Athena!

I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.

Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!

The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.

Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!

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