2000-02-25 - Success
What is your definition of success? Two children, a three-bedroom house, two cars and a couple of vacations each year? Evidence of lives changed because of a ministry into which you have poured your heart? Straight A's in school? Should I feel successful if I receive several letters affirming a devotional I write? If I make everyone around me happy? There is nothing wrong with any of these, IF they are God's will. But what does success look like, through God's eyes?
He broke the rules. His family branded him as crazy. Though some accepted his teachings, his sermons fell on many deaf ears. Some of his friends were disloyal to him; one even turned him into the police on false charges. When he died, many considered him a dismal failure. Yet in God's eyes, His Son Jesus Christ is the most successful Person Who has ever lived.
Sometimes our view of success or failure is too time-limited. We can be such impatient people. We are spoiled by fast food, instant banking, drive-through pharmacies, express lanes both in grocery stores and on highways. We too often fail to realize that we may not see results immediately and sometimes not until we reach Heaven.
At other times, we simply have misordered priorities. We feel like failures if we are not making those in our orbit happy -- our parents, spouses, children, clients. But in actuality, if we are appeasing everyone, we most likely are not pleasing God. He never promised that everyone would be pleased with us; in fact, His word predicts quite the opposite:
(Mat 10:34-36 NRSV) "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household.
What should be our measure of success? Our plumbline needs to be the degree to which we are following the lead of God's Holy Spirit. In every area in which we are obedient to God, we are successful. If you think about it, it is very freeing to realize that we are not responsible for results. If a loved one is unsaved, we are responsible for sharing the Gospel with them (once, not over and over, which more often tends to alienate and tire them), and let God provide the watering (1 Cor 3:7-9). We are to do our best at work (Eccl. 9:10) and leave the outcome to God. We tend to confuse results with success. We are responsible for following God's will in each arena of our lives--work, school, family, friendships, and ministry. But the results are totally in God's hands.
May our model be Christ: (John 4:34 NRSV) Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.
: ) Jan