A lot of people think it depends on what they do--be it salvation or anything else in this life--especially success. And mostly, church people have this idea, as well, especially when it comes to ministry success. They all think it's something they have done that spells the difference.
The young guy came to Jesus and asked what he should do to get eternal life. He thought he was good enough. So Jesus told him--"No one is good but God alone." That should put all confidence in the flesh to permanent rest, but no. People today (especially church people) still maintain it has something to do with their abilities.
They still don't get that everything is by God's grace alone. No human effort is worthy of recognition. Human effort is necessary, but success is NEVER dependent on it. God's grace and non-action, on the other hand, are incompatible, too. Faith is dead without works. But faith doesn't succeed because of work. It's because of GOD.
When folks get popular, get rich, get promoted, get awarded, or get better--they (sometimes) attribute it a bit to God and then (always) to their efforts. They think it's through their hard effort, training, determination, wit, college degree or doctorate studies, titles, their timing, perseverance, persistence, formula, programs, commitment, and other garbage.
Truth is, those things don't count in your success. You use them because you'd be judged by God through them, but they don't count or add even one bit to your success. Success is all by God's grace and mercy. You'd only be successful if he lets you.
I've seen a lot of lazy people become rich, and a lot of hardworking people fail and end up poor. However, you cannot judge success and failure this way. In God's eyes, a poor fellow can be so successful and a millionaire an extreme failure. You just have to remember Lazarus and the Rich Man. How did God saw them in the end? Who was a success and who was a pitiful failure? But people never see it this way. Even the church never see it this way.
It's funny each time you see how people behave with their laurels. If they have a successful business or ministry, they feel they have the authority to tell you how to do yours and to judge what is and is not a success--because they feel it was in their power that their businesses or ministries thrived. So, they expect people to look up to them. But despite this haughtiness, you'd hear them say their riches is all due to "God's blessings"--to sound somewhat spiritual. To cover up guilt.
God grants you success in your tasks not to parade you as a "success" but to test you. How would success affect your mind and heart, how would you start looking at yourself, and how would you treat others? I often see "successful" people congratulating themselves and celebrating it like it was all because of them--well, of course, with lip service on how it is all for God's glory and pretend that they believe it's all by God's grace.
When you are successful, you are just being tested. Period. It doesn't mean anything.
But then, successful folks expect people to look up to them. Now, they believe they have become experts and gurus at success (though they always say they're not gurus), that they have proven themselves, telling people what to do to be like them, appointing themselves as models, and warning them that not heeding their words will mean failure. Now they begin to sound like God, something like, "Without God you can do nothing!"
They fail to realize that it's NOT their formula that made their success possible (it's what they insist people should do--their success formula). Instead, it was God's consent to their success--nothing more nothing less. God chose to make them successful. Period. Without that decision, no one can be successful, regardless of the effort you pour or how effective your formula is.
But "successful" people become arrogant (well, most of them try not to be so outwardly. But try to touch their trophies and laurels and you'd see how they'd violently react). They begin to see themselves as superior and all others subordinates and inferior. So they impose their success formulas on their subordinates--not as a suggestion--but a must, if they want success, too.
It wasn't their formulas that made them succeed. It was GOD and His grace alone. The efforts, intelligence, and formulas are all incidental. Well, God will record everything (unless they repent and become meek) and call all of them to account on Judgment Day.
No one is good but God alone.
The only correct attitude in the face of success is meekness. The more successful you are, the more you should realize that no one is good but God alone.