How To Be Successful
The American Dream — we all want it. We strive for it. Work hard to get it. I suppose it’s a little different for everyone, but I think there are some basics that most of us want. Wonderful spouse. Great kids – at least one boy and girl. Great job. Big home, with a picturesque lawn on a quiet street. I think I just described Leave It To Beaver.
Is that was success is? Is that how we would define it? How do we even know if we’ve been successful? What is our measuring stick? And, is our measuring stick the same one God uses?
Let’s, for a moment, use Jeremiah for an example of success in God’s eyes. Jeremiah was the prophet during a significant time in the history of Israel & Judah. He was there for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and saw the people of Israel & Judah carried away into captivity. Jeremiah was watching these events unfold, as he wept, from a hillside overlooking the city. For almost 40 years it was Jeremiah’s “job” to warn God’s people of their ensuing destruction if they didn’t repent, however it is said of Jeremiah that he had no converts. Jeremiah is a prophet who is spoken of greatly, and yet he had converts to show of it. So then, the million dollar question is: Was Jeremiah successful?
Let’s quickly look at the life of Jesus, our ultimate example. He was poor. Despised by many. Even his disciples would turn their backs on him. The mob turned against him as well and called for the release of Barabbas (Mark 15). He was beaten, crucified, and buried in a borrowed tomb. Does that sound like the life of a successful person?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the original idea of the American Dream. At the turn of the 20th century thousands and thousands of people were immigrating to America in the hope for a new and better life, free from the class wars and poverty in their homeland. But over the years this idea has morphed into an idea that just isn’t biblical. We no longer talk about every citizen having an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work and determination. Success now amounts to what you have, where you live, and where you vacation.
I don’t think that’s the measuring stick we should be using. And, I know that’s not the measuring stick God uses to determine our success. Like Jeremiah and Jesus — and for that matter Paul, Peter, Abraham, Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr. — God didn’t measure the success of their lives by how many converts they had or if they led the largest demonstration, to make one of the most significant cultural changes, in our countries history. You see, the unit of measurement on God’s measuring stick is faithfulness. God’s call to us is not to be “successful”, it’s to be faithful.
Let that sink in for a moment…
Doesn’t that change everything?
Is the weight of the burden of success beginning to be lifted from your shoulders?
Do you feel lighter? Are you able to breathe again?
1 Corinthians 3:6-8 says, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
God has a path for each of us. For some, it may be to lead a small Bible study with your neighbors. For others, you might be the only person bringing love, compassion and gratitude to the person who serves your favorite meal or coffee drink. Some may lead thousands in a corporate setting while others may pastor a large church. These accomplishments do not define our success. Only our faithfulness to be obedient to the path God has for us determines how successful our life is.
So live life with the goal of being faithful…and you will be successful!
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